Environmental stewards introduced roughly 450,000 baby oysters to their new home in the St. Mary’s River on a sunny Saturday morning, August 28. The Oyster Restoration Project was led by the St. Mary’s River Watershed Association with the help of a $10,000 grant from Boeing and the energy of several first-year St. Mary’s College of Maryland students, completing the community service portion of their orientation.
The students were informed about the importance of oysters in the beautiful waterways surrounding their campus, learning how an adult oyster can filter 55 gallons of water each day and how the living oyster reef is a critical component to a cleaner Chesapeake Bay.
A truck carrying 150 bushels or approximately 9,000 pounds of spat-on-shell was brought to the water’s edge by Jon Farrington of Johnny Oyster Seed. Farrington explained these oysters had been raised in Battle Creek in Calvert County, where his business is located. He said while oysters for consumption may take two-to-three years to grow, oysters for restoration projects, such as this one, can be grown in only a few months.
A group of young Environmental Protection Agency employees, members of the Emerging Leaders Network, happened to be in St. Mary’s while touring sites of environmental concern and were interested in finding out more about local efforts to clean up the Bay and its tributaries.
The college freshman were instructed on how to transport the oysters from the truck to the wheelbarrows, then off to the barge that would take teams a quarter mile out to an existing but depleted bar for planting the mass of baby oysters.
As students unloaded the truck, they struck up conversations about favorite seafood dishes and became fascinated by the bounty of Harris mud crabs that spilled out of the oyster clusters.
Boeing Global Corporate Citizenship community investor Oscar Ocasio told TheBAYNET.com the oyster restoration initiative is an important thing in St. Mary’s County. “It’s a great cause and we’re glad to support it.”
The Watershed Association’s other current projects include a five-acre oyster bar at Chancellor’s Point, with grant funding from Constellation Energy and an addition to the Marylanders Grow Oysters program in mid-September.
SMRWA is looking for more volunteers to participate in the MGO program and is always open to new members who want to help in their mission to “protect, improve and promote the well-being of the St. Mary’s River Watershed.”
The annual RiverFest celebration is September 25 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Historic St. Mary’s City. For details on SMRWA events and activities, click here.