Build-A-Reef: 24 Million More Oysters In The Severn

Boy, do we have some really great oyster restoration news in the Severn River!

The Robert Lee Planting Oysters In Severn River

Thanks to private donors who love oysters, Smyth Jewelers, the Severn River Association and the Oyster Recovery Partnership have just planted 24 million baby oysters and created a new oyster restoration reef in the Severn.

The new bivalve arrivals are now ensconced in their happy home on the Traces Hollow restoration reef just south of the Rt. 50 Bridge. See map at below. 

And, a week later, they’re enjoying good water quality.

SRA’s Field Investigators, Jack Beckham and Emi McGeady, report oxygen levels on the reef at 4.26 milligrams/Liter (mg/L). This is pretty good water quality for this time of year.

Oysters Planted on Traces Hollow (in green).

Plus, salinity levels on the bottom of the river where oysters live is good, as well.

Jack and Emi measured salinity at 9.12 parts per thousand (ppt). In three years, when these guys mature, they’ll be filtering up to 50 gallons of water a day.

And, one day, when the moon is high, the candles soft, the music mellow, and salinity is right (around 12 ppt), hopefully, these baby oysters will naturally reproduce and start creating self-sustaining oyster reefs again.

This is the SRA/OPR partnership’s third Operation Build-A-Reef project, funded entirely by private donations.

In July 2020, the Build-A-Reef operation planted 17 million oysters on a reef along Priest Point.

Oysters On Deck Of The Robert Lee Ready For Planting

In 2018, SRA/ORP partners planted 44 million oyster spat on shell on three other historic oyster bars where the US Army Corps of Engineers had previously laid down substrate (hard surfaces) so the oysters will live above the muddy bottom of the Severn River.

These oyster restoration plantings are all part of SRA’s mission to one day have 1.3 billion mature oysters cleaning and filtering the Severn every few days.

More good news ahead: A new report from SRA will detail how our oyster dive team has found proof that natural oyster reproduction is beginning to occur in the Severn.

Photos: Blue Moon Photography