EDGEWATER, Md. (WJZ) — An underwater experiment is playing out in Edgewater. Conservationists are waiting to see if shellfish can help them save the shoreline.

Barely peeking out of the water, a line of reef balls now parallels the shoreline where conservationists are turning to baby oysters to do a big job.

“We’re not only protecting a community asset from the wave and wake action that’s been eroding this bluff at a very rapid rate, but we’re also restoring habitat by bringing oysters back in closer to shore,” said Kevin Green, the interim executive director of the Arundel Rivers Federation.

You can’t see the shellfish inside the concrete habitats becoming one of the first living shorelines with reef balls in Maryland, but their task is large.

The reef’s creators are drawing on history for help.

“The idea is to bring it back to where it was and how it looked 300 years ago,” said Karl Willey with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Oyster Restoration Center.

The goal, Willey said, is to replicate the oyster reefs that existed then, naturally filtering water, preventing pollution and attracting fish.

The 3-D structures are a modern take for an underwater experiment.

“For years down the road, we’ll keep monitoring it seeing how well the oysters are doing, seeing how the grasses are doing,” Willey said.

Kimberly Eiten

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