After our successful Bull Roast event this year, My Brother’s Keeper was able to help our community in a new and exciting way. After the Bull Roast event, MBK was able to collect and donate 7 bushels of oyster shells to donate to the Oyster Recovery Program. Each bushel contained 500 shells, which can become seeded with at least 10 baby oysters, in hopes to help replenish the oyster population of the Chesapeake Bay.
MBK alone was able to support the possible growth of at least 35,000 oysters for our bay. Baby oysters grow best after being attached to a hard surface, the best being another shell of an oyster. After years of over-harvesting, the Oyster Recovery Program has begun work to help replenish the depleted oyster population of the bay. The Oyster Recovery Program recognizes the importance of oysters to not only the Chesapeake Bay’s ecosystem, but to the livelihood of fishermen within Maryland.
Thomas Price of the Shell Recycling Alliance had this to say-
“7 bushels equates to enough shell for up to 35,000 new oysters.
Each bushel contains roughly 500 shells, each of which can be seeded with roughly 10 spat (baby oysters).
The process of using these shells for restoring existing oyster reefs begins by aging the shell for at least 1 year. After the shell is dried from extended sun exposure, it is sent through our shell washer to rinse off dirt and contaminants. From there the shell is placed in stainless steel cages and moved into large fiberglass tanks on a setting pier at the University of Maryland’s Horns Point Laboratory Oyster Hatchery in Cambridge, MD. Water from the Choptank River is pumped into the tanks and larval oysters are released that naturally attach, or “set” to each shell. The larvae are produced from healthy Chesapeake oysters that are spawned inside the hatchery by simply adjusting the water temperature. After each shell is “set” with baby oysters, or spat, the cages are removed from the tanks and placed on our planting vessel. The next step is to plant the oyster spat over designated reefs by gently pushing it overboard using a large hose and water pump.
The last step is monitoring each site to check for survivability through the season.
This is video put together by the Chesapeake Bay Program outlines the process in more detail. It also goes over the Harris Creek project where much of the shell ends up.
As you can see, oyster shell is the limiting factor in our oyster restoration.
From everyone at ORP and Horns Point, thanks again for your shell donation!”
My Brother’s Keeper is as strong as our support. Our programs are based on community need as well as the donations and volunteer services available. As our staff continues to work towards helping the community, outside help by way of donations and volunteers are always welcome! Become a part of something great and help make MBK where hope finds a home.
To learn more about how to help, or to find out more about our services, call MBK today at 410-644-3194.