BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A group of volunteers is hoping their efforts planting oyster gardens can make Baltimore’s Inner Harbor swimmable and fishable.

Volunteers with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore spent part of Saturday building oyster cages for around 50,000 baby oysters off a pier at the Baltimore Marine Center in Canton.

The oysters can make a big difference in the health of the harbor, with one adult oyster filtering up to 50 gallons of water, Chesapeake Bay Foundation Baltimore program manager Carmera Thomas said.

“The misconception that the harbor is dead is not true,” she said. “There are things living here, we are growing them to improve the water quality and we’re growing them to create habitat for years to come for other animals.”

Forty volunteers lined up along the waterfront to drop the cages into the harbor.

Oysters naturally filter the water, plus their mere existence creates a habitat for other fish and species needed for a healthy aquatic ecosystem.

“There’s a lot more to it the actual quality of the water. You can see the fish in there, and when the water is clear enough you can see crabs at the bottom. There is life in there now but I think it could be better,” said Canton resident Sam Roberts.

While they taste good with a cocktail, oysters are more than a good appetizer choice; they’re a small-shelled step toward a cleaner Charm City.

“We can do all the work we want to cleaning and greening the waterfront area, but no one is going to enjoy the waterfront without also cleaning up the harbor,” said Tiffany Kim with the Healthy Harbor Initiative.

The cages will be removed in the spring, at which time the oysters will be moved to a sanctuary reef.

Rachael Cardin

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