New option for old decaying seawalls.

Sarasota Bay Watch has been working with the Reef Ball Foundation and Reef Innovations in the development of a retrofit for existing seawalls, as a step toward a living shoreline.

Below is  a video explaining a project that will be hitting the water in the next month.


Video was retreived from Sarasota Baywatch

In many locations there is not an option to establish a living breakwater offshore and backfill to the existing seawall. This might be the best option. The project is labor intensive as modules are created then moved into place along the existing seawall.

More information is available on Eco-Rap from Reef Innovations.

Get to work on restoring salt marsh!

With more research showing the value of salt marsh we find they are important for carbon sequestration as well as protection from rising sea levels.

This report from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science  points to the resilience of salt marshes.


  • High and Low Marsh

Study predicts salt marshes will persist despite rising seas

Says traditional assessment methods overestimate vulnerability

A new study in Nature Climate Change contends that traditional assessment methods overestimate the vulnerability of salt marshes to sea-level rise because they don’t fully account for processes that allow the marshes to grow vertically and migrate landward as water levels increase.

The persistence of salt marshes despite rising seas would be a rare bit of good news for coastal ecosystems, which are under threat from a host of factors including nutrient pollution, invasive species, and development. Healthy marshes buffer coasts from storms, improve water quality, provide habitat for commercial fisheries, and help fight global warming by trapping carbon.

Lead author Matt Kirwan, a professor at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, says “Catastrophic predictions of marsh loss appear alarming, but they stem from simple models that don’t simulate the dynamic feedbacks that allow marshes to adapt not only to present rates of sea-level rise but the accelerated rates predicted for coming decades. Marsh soils actually build much faster as marshes become more flooded.”

Low-elevation marshes are where dynamic feedbacks operate most effectively to counter sea-level rise. ©M. Kirwan.
Low-elevation marshes are where dynamic feedbacks operate most effectively to counter sea-level rise. ©M. Kirwan.

More frequent flooding carries more mud into the marsh and also encourages the growth of several common marsh plants. Together, these processes raise the marsh soil in concert with rising waters.By not accounting for these feedbacks, Kirwan and his co-authors argue, traditional assessments greatly underestimate marsh resilience. Joining Kirwan on the study were Stijn Temmerman of the University of Antwerpen, Emily Skeehan of VIMS, Glenn Guntenspergen of the U.S. Geological Survey, and Sergio Fagherazzi of Boston University.

The team conducted their study by compiling and re-analyzing 179 previously published records of change in marsh elevation from sites in North America and Europe. “Our study shows that soil accretion rates more than double as marshes become more flooded, suggesting a strong ability for marshes to survive accelerations in sea-level rise,” says Kirwan.

“The most common models greatly overestimate marsh vulnerability to sea-level rise,” adds Guntenspergen. “These models assume that marshes rise, but only at a rate equal to recent measurements of marsh accretion. This approach leads inevitably to marsh drowning, and predictions that most tidal wetlands will be inundated by the end of the current century.”

The researchers say the few models that do incorporate dynamic feedbacks indicate that marshes can generally survive 10 to 50 millimeters of sea-level rise per year. That far exceeds current annual rates of about 3 millimeters of globally averaged sea-level rise, and mostly exceeds even the higher-end rates of 8 to 17 millimeters per year predicted by U.N. climate scientists for 2100.

The team suggests that use of these more advanced models will help ecosystem managers assess marsh vulnerability more accurately, and should be encouraged. They also recommend that researchers expand their current focus on the vertical adaptability of marshes by mounting studies that help clarify the processes that control the horizontal migration of marsh boundaries through time.

Looking at recent history, the researchers note that the feedbacks built into the dynamic models also help explain the observed stability of many salt marshes in the mid-Atlantic and elsewhere during recent decades, and the relative rarity of marshes that have already drowned. Where drowned marshes do occur—think the Mississippi delta or Venice lagoon—the culprit is a reduced sediment supply, due to dam or levee building, or increased subsidence due to groundwater withdrawal and other factors.

High-elevation marshes are more vulnerable to sea-level rise, but grow more resilient as they succumb to rising waters and are replaced by low marsh. ©M. Kirwan.
High-elevation marshes are more vulnerable to sea-level rise, but grow more resilient as they succumb to rising waters and are replaced by low marsh. ©M. Kirwan.

“Marshes fail to survive current rates of sea-level rise only where people have restricted sediment delivery or where the tidal range is very low,” says Kirwan.The researchers temper their optimism regarding vertical marsh growth with a cautionary note about the importance of allowing salt marshes to migrate horizontally as rising seas push them landward. They note that in low-lying areas of the U.S. Atlantic Coast, migration into nearby forests could offset most of the loss of existing salt marshes.

But marsh migration isn’t possible where obstructed by coastal cliffs or human barriers. “Almost 20% of the Chesapeake Bay shoreline is hardened by riprap, seawalls, and other structures,” says Kirwan, “and similar structures border almost all marsh areas in northwest Europe. We suggest that the availability of low-lying land for wetland migration is a first-order determinant of marsh fate.”


Retreived from:


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.

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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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Reef Balls and Eco Rap areal

imagephoto by Josh Harwell

Located at Reef Ball Central in Sarasota, you will find a stockpile of Reef Balls and 3 rows of the new product Eco Wrap, designed to be placed along seawalls increasing resilience and providing habitat for oyster and juvenal fish.