Category Archives: Shellfish Restoration

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.

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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 www.ccamd.org for details.

 

Retreived from: https://www.chesapeakebaymagazine.com/baybulletin/2017/6/20/manmade-reef-to-double-in-size

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: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/environment/bs-md-reef-balls-20170621-story.html

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With over 900 Reef Balls deployed this is truly a great cooperative effort.  Watch the video to see how they were deployed and why.   Then think creatively about a project for your area.   Oysters are important and we have lost so many in the waters around the world.  What will you to to restore marine habitat?

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Over the past few years as I attended workshops on Blue Carbon, I have always suspected that Oysters may be a way to remove carbon.  Afterall their shell is calcium carbonate.  Attached is a link to an article that may make a good case for mover forward quickly in the re-establishing oyster populations in all our estuaries and definitely as part of a homeowner living shoreline project to replace or augment their seawall and dock.

 

Could Oyster Shells Sequester Carbon?

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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 Photos from Point Pinole

Survey Pictures from California.

California
Photo by Helen Dickson

Point Pinole reef

photo by Sheryl Drinkwater


Pt. Pinole Monitoring 2

photo by Helen Dickson


What’s on the Reef?

First Colonizers – build it and they will come!

By Helen Dickson

reef1As we say hello to 2015, we also wrap up our first year monitoring our oyster reef on the Point Pinole Shoreline. We’ve found some great things!

First, and most important, we found our native Olympia oysters! These crusty creatures were the impetus for the reef project, and we are happy to report that they have found their new habitat and are settling in nicely. They are present by the hundreds on the reef balls, and they have grown an average of 220% since August–that means they have more than tripled their body size in just four months!

Olympia oysters are smaller than the Pacific oysters that we commonly think of (and eat), so these young bivalves are still pretty small: about a third of an inch in length. They can expect to get a few inches bigger before they’re fully grown.

reef2Oyster larvae are only motile for a short time before they pick a spot and settle down. They need a hard surface to attach to, such as a rock or the shells of adult oysters. The sediment that washed down into the bay during the gold mining days covered up many of the habitable spots, and now hard surfaces are at a premium. The oyster reef balls, made of bay sand, oyster shell and concrete, provide nice hard spots for oysters to settle down and get to their life’s work: filtering water. As filter feeders, Olympia oysters strain their food from the water, filtering about 50 gallons of water per day and doing their part to keep the bay clean and healthy.

Our other reef inhabitants are barnacles. They are also filter feeders, but they have a specialized skill set: while oysters and most other filter feeders internally filter water, barnacles actually reach out of the shelter of their shells with long, feathery limbs and grab food particles from the water. Smaller than oysters, barnacles tend to grow on any hard substrate they can find, up to and including marine animals such as whales.

Oysters and barnacles tend to be among the first colonizers of new spaces in the marine world. They can weather harsh environments and end up creating more suitable habitat for many other life forms, including nudibranchs, crabs, and even small fish. This community is not always a welcome addition: for example, presence of these “fouling organisms” on boat hulls can create so much drag in the water that fuel efficiency drops, sometimes drastically. However, to us this community of hardy invertebrates communicates a healthy and prosperous bay.

reef3We witnessed another magic moment that brought home the fact that the reef is fulfilling its purpose. It came in the form of a beautiful bird, near sundown, on a stormy December day: a Great Egret was spied fishing amongst the reef balls, a sure sign that life is moving into the reef.

If you’re interested in learning more and volunteering to monitor the reef, please contact Helen Dickson (helen@thewatershedproject.org).




We Have Deployment!

100 Reef Balls Create a Native Oyster Reef

By Chris Lim

oysterreef1Hooray, we finally did it! This past Friday, we adorned the San Francisco Bay with our native oyster reefalong the North Richmond shoreline in Point Pinole Regional Park. Friday’s installation was a culmination of many days and years of demanding work, work highlighting people’s dedication to making the Bay a healthier place. Work either touched by an agency ally, community volunteer, or local supporter.

A range of people attended this eventful day, each with a common connection: the Olympia oyster. As the only oyster native to the west coast of North America, we all appreciate the role oysters play in a healthy ecosystem. Oysters provide habitat for small organisms such as amphipods, worms, and crabs, that are food for larger animals like salmon and birds.

Under a bright sun and pleasant breeze, community members enjoyed oysters on the half shell, while observing the crew of Dixon Marine Services, a local oceanographic company, lower 100 reef balls into the water. Throughout the day, people had a variety of questions about our 250 pound reef balls, but the one on the tip of everyone’s tongue was, “Can we eat the oysters growing on them?” We need people to understand that our project is rooted in science and the oysters are NOT to be eaten. Our Bay and its infinite connections to the people of the Bay, is inevitably affected by the pollution entering our Estuary. Oysters are filter feeders, so in order to eat, adult oysters filter almost 10 gallons of water per day. Oysters can store some of these pollutants in their bodies, and excrete them as well. But one day we envision a swimmable and edible Bay.oysterreef2

Though our project is rooted in science our native oyster reef is really about our community. This reef will benefit the health of San Francisco Bay for years to come because a small group of proactive people decided to make positive environmental choices together. Whether one helped push through a permit, got dirty making reef balls, monitored oysters, or donated services, their imprint is a lasting part of the oyster reef. The reef is another opportunity to connect people with their watershed. The reef becomes an outdoor classroom in our high school curriculum, Wild! Oysters. Students come face-to-face with actual live oysters in the field and monitor them just as marine scientists would. We will also engage community volunteers to monitor the reef for oyster recruitment and the percent cover of other organisms.volunteers

We all worked together to do something good for our Bay, and provide Mother Nature with the kick-start she needs. So now the reef balls will allow nature to take its course, letting hundreds of thousands newly attached oysters, or spat, to filter pollutants from the Bay. Our reef is a great example of what an organized community is able to accomplish.

If you are interested in becoming involved with the monitoring of native oysters, please check our upcoming events and contact Chris Lim.

Photo Credits: Andrew Whitmore, Greening Urban Watersheds Intern



Stay in touch with what is going on at  The Watershed Project     http://www.thewatershedproject.org/WhatWeDo/WhatWeDo.html

 

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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  https://www.facebook.com/rick.elyar/about

 

 

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Studying oyster growth on a Reef Ball CBF photo
Studying oyster growth on a Reef Ball CBF photo

This  Oyster sive Reef Ball was pulled up so scientists could survey the growth.  The Reef Ball was placed on the Lafayette-River in Virginia.  Photo – September 8, 2016

Oyster Ball

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Native Oyster Reef Monitoring at Point Pinole

The Watershed Project is an NGO based in Richmond, CA that inspires Bay Area communities to understand, appreciate and protect our local watersheds.

My first engagement with the organization was at Bubbles and Bivalves, their annual fundraiser at the Aquarium of the Bay on Pier 39 in San Francisco. Much of their programming and activities align with what Hustleshuck is trying to do as far as using oysters to get people more connected to (improving) the marine environment. Their flagship project is a set of artificial oyster reefs located on the tide flats at Point Pinole on the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay.

Several times a year a group of volunteers go out to monitor the reef in order to get a sense of the state of the native oyster population. Olympia oysters are the only species of oyster native to the West coast. There wasn’t much of a commercial industry for them in the San Francisco Bay as there was further north in Oregon or Washington, however they still played a crucial role in the estuarine ecosystem. Across the globe, oysters are recognized as a keystone species in coastal environments thanks to their habitat forming and water filtering capacities.

These ecosystem services were lost when sedimentation and declining water quality created an inhabitable environment for oysters in the San Francisco Bay. Like similar projects in New York Harbor and Chesapeake Bay, The Watershed Project is trying to reestablish native oysters in San Francisco Bay in the hopes of improving the health of the environment, regaining some of the biodiversity that was lost, and connecting local inhabitants to the history and promise of the Bay as a natural and cultural resource.

It was an early to start to get over to Point Pinole by 7am. We had to take advantage of the low morning tide in order to have enough time to collect our data before the reefs once again became submerged in bay water. We paired up in teams of two and set about analyzing the number and size of oysters on the reef balls as well as determining what else was growing on them and in the area.

Our surveying method consisted of randomly selecting a 6”x6” area on the north side of randomly selected reef balls. With about 30 individual areas observed we could get a good overall sense of the health of population at this site. I was blown away by the number of oysters we found, as well as the amount of algae and other invertebrates living on and around the reef balls. It definitely seemed to be a high energy environment, remarkably similar to oyster farming sites in the concentration and diversity of organisms.

All-in-all it was a successful outing. I’d never seen so many Olys (as Olypmia oysters are commonly known) in the wild. The reefs were also clearly creating habitat for other animals like grass shrimp, which are a key prey species for striped bass, shad, and other fish.

I’ll be curious to see how things will have changed on the next outing later in Fall.  Stay tuned!