Tens Of Thousands Of Oysters Survive To Make Trip To Better Water

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — In perfect conditions, oysters raise themselves. But in parts of the bay, they need hands-on human help.

Alex DeMetrick reports it works, even in some of the state’s most troubled water.

A bucket brigade formed at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, passing some hand-raised baby oysters. They had their start early last fall, when volunteers built cages, filled them with old shells with tiny oyster spat attached and then dropped them off docks scattered around the Inner Harbor to grow. Not the best water for marine life.

But in these buckets, more than 20,000 oysters survived to make the trip to better water and a man-made reef outside the Key Bridge off-limits to harvesting.

The location has: “Good water flow. It’s shallow water and it’s also a good hard bottom so we don’t have to worry about the reef sinking down into the silt,” said John Rodenhausen, Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Volunteers from Legg Mason and Brown Advisory released what they raised.

“We know we’re helping the bay, and so it was interesting. It was hard work, though. It wasn’t easy,” said Ann Cowing, Brown Advisory employee.

“We had to go out every month and pull the cages up, open them up, clean out the oysters,” said Ann Joyner, Brown Advisory employee.

But for all the effort that went into this project, it’s only a drop in the bucket.

Over a decade, tens of millions of dollars have been spent and hundreds of millions of oysters planted in a bid to bring the species back from disease and overfishing.

“We were so far down, we couldn’t see up. But we’re getting there,” said John Page Williams, Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

Even though stormwater runoff is a challenge to life in the harbor, the Oyster Partnership reports a 70 percent survival rate thanks to the efforts of volunteers.

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