Category Archives: Maryland USA

Chesapeake Bay First Reef Ball© Deployment

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources sponsored a 2003 field test to assess the suitability of Reef Balls for catching a natural oyster spat set. The Maryland Environmental Service contracted the project and coordinated and managed the deployment. The original plan was to place 75 Reef Balls in the oyster sanctuary east of Point Lookout. Since this was a field test rather than a fishing reef, Tom O’Connell, MD DNR ‘s sponsor, accepted my suggestion as project manager for MES, to split the deployment between 3 sanctuaries, thereby increasing the potential for a natural spat set. This decision resulted in one of the alternate sites in upper Tangier Sound receiving a natural spat set. This video shows the first deployment trip off Point Lookout. The thriving oyster reef that subsequently developed at the alternate site is documented by a Chesapeake Bay Foundation video made a decade later that is on the CBF website. It was this reef, a field trial at the Horn Point oyster hatchery for hatchery spat sets directly onto Reef Balls, Reef Ball pour training and demonstration project sponsored by MES and the Oyster Recovery Partnership on Tilghman Island for the Tilghman Island Fish Haven, collaboration by MES and CBF for early Reef Ball pours for Maryland Bay waters, and success of Reef Balls with hatchery spat set at CBF’s Shady Side oyster hatchery with deployment at Hollicutts Noose Fish Haven, that were the foundation for the current use of Reef Balls for oyster restoration and fishing reefs in Bay and tributary waters. Recent Reef Ball reefs include 240 Reef Balls at Winchester Lump in the Severn River and Reef Balls that were poured at National Harbor and placed in Smoot Bay on the tidal Potomac.



From Wade’s post on Facebook.

a video at Chesapeake Bay Fishing Reefs on Facebook about the first deployment of Reef Balls in Maryland Bay waters. This Reef Ball project laid the foundation for today’s projects in Bay and tributary waters, including the Reef Balls that were poured at National Harbor and placed in Smoot Bay. I had the good fortune to direct the first placement in the video and participate as a volunteer for the National Harbor pour.

Students are involved in Reef Ball Production

June 20 2017 Chesapeake Bay Magazine

Tilghman Manmade Reef to Double in Size

On Wednesday, 140 concrete reef balls will be planted on the Tilghman Reef, off Tilghman Island.

Reef balls were first deployed in 2016. Photo: CCA Maryland

Reef balls were first deployed in 2016. Photo: CCA Maryland

The reef balls were built by students in STEM education programs, in Carroll and and Anne Arundel counties as well as Vienna, Virginia. The addition of the new reef balls will double the current size of the reef, making it one of the largest man-made, three-dimensional reefs in the Maryland part of the Bay.

The Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) Maryland and Northern Virginia Chapters and the Building Conservation Trust, CCA’s National Habitat Program, will plant the reef balls.

Half of the 140 reef balls being deployed this summer were set with oyster spat. When the reef was started a year ago, just 72 reef balls were deployed. Stevenson University scientist Dr. Keith Johnson is monitoring the reef. Dr. Johnson estimates there were up to 2,000 juvenile oysters in each reef ball that was deployed last July.

The reef provides habitat for fish, oysters and other filter feeders. It also attracts fish, making it a great spot for recreational fishing.

Coastal Conservation Association Maryland posted this sonar shot of the reef ball deployment from July 2016. Just one year later you can see the they are productive habitat holding fish.

Coastal Conservation Association Maryland posted this sonar shot of the reef ball deployment from July 2016. Just one year later you can see the they are productive habitat holding fish.

CCA invites folks to join in this time around: Wednesday June 21, 2017 for our next deployment and be part of the fun and help the bay! See for details.


Retreived from:

From the Baltimore Sun

A broad partnership led by the Maryland and Virginia chapters of the Coastal Conservation Association, a group of recreational anglers, dumped nearly 150 of them overboard just off the shores of Tilghman Island. They were laid alongside 72 reef balls that were dropped last year.

The project united the anglers with environmentalists, business sponsors and students for a common objective: cleaning the Chesapeake for the sake of its ecology and for its economic power.

The strategy for restoring the bay’s oyster population has become divisive in recent years, with debates over where watermen should be allowed to harvest and how much of the shellfish population should be held in sanctuary.

Projects such as the Tilghman Island reef show the industry and science don’t have to be at odds, said Del. Robert Flanagan, who joined Schoberg and two Carroll County teachers Wednesday to watch the new reef be built.

“We can have sanctuaries and still have this thriving industry,” the Ellicott City Republican said. “We can do both.”

The Coastal Conservation Association funded the $20,000 project largely through its Building Conservation Trust, a program that aims to restore or create new habitats for fish and other marine organisms.

It pulled in the support of groups such as the Chesapeake Bay Foundation whose ship, the Patricia Campbell, was used to ferry and drop the reef balls, and companies like Lehigh Heidelberg Cement Group, which supplied the concrete, said David Sikorski, executive director of the association’s Maryland chapter.

And they employed the labor of students from across the bay watershed — including a handful of Carroll County schools, the Anne Arundel Center For Applied Technology North, and James Madison High School in Vienna, Va.

About half of the reef balls planted Wednesday were each covered in about 2,000 baby oysters, grown by the bay foundation at its Oyster Restoration Center in Shady Side. That made them already a dingy gray as the ship’s crane lowered them into the bay, four at a time.

Students made the reef balls with fiberglass molds developed by Georgia-based nonprofit the Reef Ball Foundation. They mixed the concrete, poured it in the molds and waited for them to set.

Underwater surveys and photos of last year’s reef balls show an area of bay bottom that would otherwise be barren sand is teeming with life. They are part of an 84-acre artificial reef that also contains bridge decking, tires and granite, according to the Maryland Artificial Reef Initiative, a program of the state natural resources department.

Allison Sweeney and Bethany Baer, fourth-grade teachers at Elmer Woolfe Elementary School in Union Bridge, said the project came amidst lessons about bay ecology and water quality and about the history of Maryland’s seafood industry. The two tagged along Wednesday to snap photos to share with their students.

“In social studies we talk about the job of the bay,” Sweeney said. “We talked about how our natural resources affect what we can do in our society.”

The lessons stuck with Schober. She remembered seeing pictures of massive piles of oyster shells, from back when there were nearly 100 times more of the bivalves across the bay.

“Now there’s just barely any left,” she said.

But one of her favorite lessons was about the Chesapeake “Oyster Wars,” conflicts in the late 1800s and early 1900s between watermen and pirates who dredged for oysters illegally. That conflict, and the ongoing struggles of watermen on the bay, taught her the economic importance of oyster harvesting.

“You can’t say ‘don’t do it for a month,’ because some people make their money that way,” Schober said.

Retrieved from:

Chesapeake Bay Reef Balls Update Oct 2016

YRSCB Participates in CBF Oyster Reef Building

CBF Oyster Ball Reef Workshop, October 18, 2016

Instruction from JackieWe met at the VIMS boat basin at 8:30 am on a beautiful autumn morning. Several participants were seasoned veterans of the process and quickly got to work disassembling reef ball molds from a previous build. The group, along with other volunteers and CBF members, were anticipating delivery of concrete at 10am and we were ready – but the truck had issues. After much waiting for our concrete, the bucket brigade began. We finished early with many hands making light work and even had time to help with stuffing concrete by hand into the smaller “lego-style” reefs designed for homeowners.

So what does CBF’s Virginia Oyster Restoration Manager, Jackie Shannon, think of YRSCB participation in this project?

“We are so grateful for the support that the York River and Small Coastal Basin Roundtable has provided the Chesapeake Bay Foundation over the past four years. The funding and volunteerism that this group has provided has resulted in the construction of 100 oyster reef balls. I am pleased to say that we are working with other restoration partners to install the reef balls into the Piankatank River next spring (2017)!

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) owns a significant amount of land in the Piankatank watershed – many acres that border the river directly. TNC contacted CBF about partnering on a project that would protect some stretches of their shoreline that are experiencing active erosion. Over the last several months, CBF has been in discussion with The Nature Conservancy, Old Dominion University, and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science to discuss the best way to develop a project that documents coastal resiliency. We agree that reef balls would be an ideal structure to protect the shoreline while also creating three dimensional habitat for oysters and other Bay species to utilize.

We propose to install two 100’ long berms each constructed using 50 reef balls each that will be seeded with an existing population of live oysters in our tanks at VIMS prior to deployment. The reef balls were all constructed and funded by members of the York River & Small Coastal Basins Roundtable.”

Hard workYRSCB members taking part in the 2016 reef ball building were:

  • Jim Tate, HCSWCD
  • Karen Reay, York Roundtable webmaster
  • Page Hutchinson, VDOF
  • Pattie Bland, HCSWCD
  • Anna Reh-Gingerich, DEQ-PRO
  • Kaitlin Ranger, DEQ-PRO
  • Katie Abel,TCCSWCD
  • Izabela Sikora,TCCSWCD
  • Rebecca Shoemaker, DEQ-NRO
  • Michael Steen, Watermens Musuem
  • Beverly Nunnally

See photos (courtesy of Pattie Bland, Karen Reay and Jim Tate) below and click on each photo to enlarge.

To learn more about why oyster reef balls benefit Chesapeake Bay, see Restoring the “Coral Reefs” of the Chesapeake Bay or contact Jackie Shannon, Virginia Oyster Restoration Manager, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, 804-832-8804

Completed reefballs Reef mold assembly Concrete truck
Meeting at Reservation Pattie assembling molds Waiting for concrete
Bucket brigade Working, tapping Mixed concrete top
Coast Guard visitors Bridge Boat Basin Channel
Assembly of molds Oyster bags

Survey of Reef Balls find blue crab.

It was exciting to see this photo of blue crab making its home in a Reef Ball.   Shellfish Restoration efforts should not target just oysters, / single species.   Reef Balls placed individually are a great IFH, in the midst of seagrasses they mimic the natural rock formations for stone crabs.  In fact they are also related to the life states of lobster.

Retrieved from Rick Elyar 's Facebook Page, Reef Ball with Blue Crab Highlighted.
Retrieved from Rick Elyar ‘s Facebook Page, Reef Ball with Blue Crab Highlighted.

Thanks to Rick



2013 article Chesapeake Bay oyster restoration.

Saving the Chesapeake Bay, One Oyster at a Time

Written by: Laura Wood

Recent low lunar tides along the Lafayette River offered an excellent opportunity to see the fruits of our oyster restoration work. Above, reef balls planted two years ago are now completely covered in oysters.
Photo by CBF Staff

Once so chock-full that Native Americans called it “great shellfish bay,” the Chesapeake has long since seen its oyster population decimated by overharvesting, pollution, and disease.

This is bad news for the Bay, and its rivers and streams. CBF’s Oyster Restoration and Fisheries Scientist Tommy Leggett explains, “Oysters are important to cleaning up the Bay. They filter huge amounts of water; nearly 50 gallons a day during the warmer months, and they grow in reefs that are home to many other Bay critters”—including blue crabs, striped bass, redfish, black drum, bluefish, white perch, speckled trout, and spot.

But, with support from friends like The Orvis Company, CBF is working to bring this vital species back from the brink.

Every year, with the help of thousands of volunteers, CBF plants tens of millions of baby oysters, builds and submerges hundreds of oyster reef balls onto protected sanctuary reefs in the waters of both Maryland and Virginia, collects oyster shells that are recycled into oyster reefs, works with local watermen on oyster aquaculture, and, runs a successful oyster gardener program.

Since 1998, CBF has planted more than 130 million oysters on 150 sanctuary reefs throughout the Bay. In what the Washington Post called a “modern day Lazarus story”, CBF’s work has helped reverse the oysters decline. In 2011, Virginia harvested the most oysters since 1989—roughly 236,000 bushels (up from 79,600 in 2005), and Maryland hauled in 121,000 (more than quadrupling its harvest from 2005 of 26,000).  Not only that, but in Maryland, their 2011 oyster survey showed the highest survival rate since 1985—92 percent—a sign that our continued efforts are paying off.

Working with partners like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, The Nature Conservancy, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, CBF is focusing its oyster restoration efforts on specific tributaries—Harris Creek, Severn River, and the Choptank and Little Choptank Rivers in Maryland, and the Lafayette, Elizabeth, and Piankatank Rivers in Virginia.

CBF knows we’re not going to save the Bay without oysters. With the help of partners like The Orvis Company, we’re restoring hope, not just for the Bay’s native oyster population, but for the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and streams.

Editorial Gives Thumbs Up to Reef Balls

Yesterday, the Carrol County Times Editorial gave a thumbs up to Reef Balls and highlighted an article from earlier in the week.   We at Reef Innovations and the Reef Ball Foundation are also excited about the great programs and support from the area.

Our view: We’re giving thumbs up for Reef balls,

Thumbs up: Masonry students at the Carroll County Career and Tech Center worked with Chesapeake Bay Foundation employees earlier this week to create concrete “reef balls,” which serve as artificial oyster habitats designed to not only restore the bay’s wild oyster population but also naturally clean up excess nutrients in the bay.

The Tech Center students planned to create 200 of the reef balls, which can each produce up to 2,000 oysters. Each oyster can filter 50 gallons of water a day. Westminster High School junior Josh Kosmicki, who is president of the school’s Coastal Conservation Association and reached out to the Maryland branch of the CCA to get the reef ball project moving, said he hopes it will help inspire students to be more bay-wise.

Copyright © 2016, Carroll County Times, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Privacy Policy

Retrieved from:

2016 Training Career & Tech Students

In Carrol County Maryland students are learning and participating in the efforts to restore our Nation’s estuaries.  Projects across the Gulf of Mexico have also been looking to include vocational training as part of their Restore Act project proposals.     The Reef Ball Foundation and Reef Innovations have look at education as being an important part of all projects over the past 24 years.   Community participation leads to ownership of the project and greater success over time.

The video and article below were retrieved from  by Michel Elben Contact Reporter Carroll County Times

Click this link to watch the video

Carroll County Career & Tech students learn to construct oyster reefs

Michel Elben

Michel ElbenContact ReporterCarroll County Times

“The bay is such a delicate ecosystem. It needs our help.”

Carefully smoothing out concrete inside a bell-shaped structure with a rubber mallet, Francis Scott Key High School senior and masonry student Sarah Kramer worked with Chesapeake Bay Foundation employees Wednesday afternoon to create reef balls at the Carroll County Career and Technology Center in Westminster.

The reef balls are part of the Coastal Conservation Association of Maryland’s Living Reef Action Campaign.

“I’m happy to be part of a project that helps other people,” Kramer said. “I’m being taught how to make them, and I’ll teach other people how to put them together.”

Coastal Conservation Association of Maryland President Rick Elyer said the group partnered with Carroll County Public Schools about a month ago at the request of Westminster High School’s CCA club. Elyer said the group aims to restore nearly 3 million wild oysters to the Chesapeake Bay by creating an artificial reef.

Career and Tech students will cast 200 2-by-2-foot reef balls that CCA will place in the mid-Chesapeake Bay this summer. According to Elyer, an oyster can filter 50 gallons of water a day. One reef ball will produce 2,000 oysters, creating a natural mechanism to remove the bay’s excess nutrients.

Westminster High School junior Josh Kosmicki, who is president of the school’s Coastal Conservation Association, said he hopes this project will help inspire students to be more bay-wise.

“In Carroll County, because we’re not so close to the bay, we have trouble motivating people to get involved,” Kosmicki said. “I like the whole premise of the project. The bay is such a delicate ecosystem. It needs our help.”

While some students mixed cement donated by Lehigh Cement Co. in Union Bridge, CBF’s Oyster Restoration Coordinator Dan Johannes worked with Kramer and other students to affix a bell-like frame to plywood. CBF’s Patrick Beall sprayed the inside of the frame with sugar water and added sand to the mold to seal the bottom.

To create entrance and exit holes for the artificial habitat, the group inserted tetherballs and a large bladder ball into the mold. Then students shoveled and smoothed the cement in the structure, which was created with additives and aggregates from concrete supplier Thomas Bennett & Hunter Inc. in Westminster. After the structures dry overnight, students will deflate the balls and remove the reefs from the molds.

“This is awesome,” Johannes said. “It’s nice to see them getting involved in projects like this to save the bay. Their eagerness to learn is the best.”

Carroll County Public Schools Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Coordinator Bryan Shumaker said the reef ball project was great because of the multidisciplinary approach.

“The science and mathematics of mixing concrete is something we teach every day, but this project helps our students see how what they create can make an amazing habitat for dozens of different bay organisms,” Shumaker said.

Tech Center masonry instructor Mike Campanile said he and students are proud to be part of an environmental project.

“This is right up our alley,” Campanile said. “It’s cool to have them put their hands on something permanent that they can sign their names to. When they see headlines about the Chesapeake Bay restoration, they’ll know they’re part of it.”

North Carroll High School junior and masonry student Austin Lowe, who helped mix the concrete, said the project was something unique for the class.

“It was definitely different and something I’ve never done before. I think it was a good learning experience,” Lowe said.


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Maryland Middle School Builds REEF BALLS

Dundalk Middle School Green Club Builds Reef Balls for Our Waterways

Seyi Adebayo, DRC Greening Coordinator

The DRC has been working with Dundalk Middle School’s Green Club in a variety of activities that not only help with community improvements but also encourage environmental stewardship with local youth. Dundalk Middle School Green Club’s latest project has been creating reef balls that will go in our waterways.

A reef ball is a designed artificial reef that is constructed to mimic natural reef systems using a special, marine friendly, concrete. They are used around the world to create habitats for fish and other marine and freshwater species.

With the help of Joe Davis, Baltimore County Public Schools Office of Outdoor Sciences, the Green Club has been able to create multiple reef balls that will be placed in our waterways.

 Article from:

mobilizing stakeholders to reinvest in greater Dundalk’s neighborhoods, economy, + quality of life!Dundalk-Middle-School-Green-Club-Builds-Reef-Balls-for-Our-Waterways/c1njc/551d9a7a0cf21d84af730a52