By Alex DeMetrick

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Back where they belong after starting life in a lab. Tens of thousands of new oysters have been planted in bay waters, thanks to human help.

Alex DeMetrick reports on the growth of an oyster growing program.

Last fall, oyster shells were divided up and sent home with people who promised to place them in special cages and hang them off their backyard decks to give life a new chance.

And now, nine months later, at least 200,000 new oysters! They all started life in a University of Maryland lab, but took human help to grow.

“You have a commitment when you decide to grow the oysters,” said Sue Walbridge. “And so, every week you have to dunk your oysters, you have to put them up on the dock for an hour.”

Throughout Maryland, 400 people are raising oysters — most of them in Talbot County.

“About three-fourths, or nearly three-fourths of all the growers are in the Chesapeake Bay region,” said Gene Counihan.

The oyster’s last helping hand comes from Department of Natural Resources biologist Chris Judy.

“We’ll run along the flag buoys –that marks the planting site — and that’s where the oysters go,” Judy said.

…Onto a protected reef in the Tred Avon River. Filter feeders, healthy oysters help clean the water and provide other marine life with a place to call home.

“So you have filtering, you have an ecological enhancement and also spawning,” said Judy.

“It’s a very tangible thing. People can see the results of what they’re doing. The goal is a great one, which is to clean up the bay,” said Scott Eglseder.

The Oysters for the Bay program is open to anyone with a dock. For more info, CLICK HERE.