SEVERN, Md. (WJZ) — Scientists from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation are on the water in Severn to launch a first-of-its-kind experiment in Maryland: the construction and integration of a man-made oyster reef.

Scientists want to see if man-made oyster reefs can break up dead zones of low oxygen that plague the Chesapeake Bay in warmer months, which would improve water quality in that part of the river.

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“A mature oyster in summertime can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day,” said John Page Williams, with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. “Beyond the filtering and beyond the seafood industry, these are our coral reefs. This is our equivalent to the coral reefs of the tropics.”

The three dimensional structures built by the oysters create a community of millions of living creatures.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is teaming up with University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and the Naval Academy to study how well the reefs work.

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“We are getting scientific evidence that it’s working and that means so much to us because we have been working so hard for so long, but it is starting to happen,” Williams said.

Results should be available by late summer.

This project is a part of the Chesapeake Oyster Alliance initiative to add 10 billion new oysters to the Chesapeake by 2025.

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