Where Are Our Oysters And What Do They Look Like?

Thanks to a warm November, SRA’s Field Investigator, Jack Beckham, is preparing to start our next scientific adventure – using side-scan sonar to map oyster restoration reefs in the Severn River.

Jack and his crew started mapping our existing oyster reefs – Traces Hollow, Manresa, Peach Orchard, Wade and Weems Upper – between the Rt. 50 and USNA Bridges to learn how to read the sonar scans and distinguish structures on the bottom of the river.

Are the bumps  and ridges showing up (see images below) on the sonar screen mud, cement, oysters or some old refrigerator?

The key clue Jack’s discovering is that the areas with irregular bumps and ridges in certain areas are telltale signatures of our burgeoning 3-D oyster reefs.

Weems Upper Sonar

Once we are experienced at mapping known oyster areas, the SRA oyster team will use our scientific research vessel, Sea Girl, this winter (when the weather cooperates this winter), to search and survey historic oyster bars, identified in the so-called Yates Survey, that mapped the oyster bars that were thriving in 1911.

Thanks To The Chesapeake Conservation Corps!

Jack joins SRA as part of the Chesapeake Conservation Corps program run by the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

Jack joined SRA in August and is now running our water quality monitoring program and coordinating our weekly crews with over 50 volunteer citizen scientists.  The WQ team just concluded the 2021 monitoring season.

Over the winter, Jack will process all the data from our 51-station WQ monitoring network and share this on the Chesapeake Data Explorer.