CT – Sound School Oyster Research

CT Sound School Oyster


The Sound School

Poster Presentation

At the Monday night poster social come hear the latest from our surveys.



It will be at the American Fisheries Annual Meeting in Tampa, FL

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

Living shoreline solutions around the world using a complex AR module.

Contact us in your planning stages as we are happy to share research and information as you look for a solutions to your living shoreline issues.

It could be the question of avoiding erosion by providing wave attenuation with a product that has proven success over the past 23 years.  Starting with research sponsored by the US Army Corp of engineers in the 1990.   Or it could be similar to this project designed to protect an Audubon Bird Sanctuary in Tampa Bay.Eagle on Alafia River banks

Aesthetics was an important factor in the design of Reef Balls.  From the water it’s not a sore thumb against the shoreline. The above photo was taken 2 years into the project.  Now phase two is underway with more Reef Balls.

Sometimes the living shoreline solution may be a scattering of Reef Balls.  This technique is proving EFH as well as the required relief for re-establishing oysters.  Reef Balls are the most effective living shoreline solution because of the complexity of the artificial reef modules design.  Various shapes and sizes  of holes, the concave and convex shape of the holes, the hollow center, all the surfaces are curved, adding a benefit in wave attenuation as well as providing the eddie currents for filter feeders.    Complex artificial reef modules such as the Reef Ball have proven to provide a better habitat for crustaceans. Other studies have shown that complex AR modules can match the area’s existing habitat in biomass.oyster dome reefNotice the opening around the base of the Reef Balls,  when on field survey be sure to look inside, the diversity of fish and crustaceans will amaze you. The waverly base of the Reef Balls is often the location of stone crabs.

Sooner or later a storm will cross your living shoreline.   Research has shown that living shorelines add resilience.  One of the key species that stabilize the shoreline are marsh grasses with roots that anchor to depths of 10ft. The catch is many shorelines have lost marsh grasses due to wave action from boat traffic.   The marshes are typically not high energy coast,  but to re-establish the marsh grasses  wave attenuation is needed.  Reef Balls provide that wave attenuation, the design of any breakwater system requires some in depth studies of wind direction, historic wave characteristics,  currents and many other factors.   Regardless, a productive living shoreline needs a flow of water.   Reef Balls, allow that water flow and they have a track record of staying in place in large storms.

SAG (submerged aquatic vegetation)  is important to re-establish,  however wave action also has an impact on these grasses.   Existing seawalls cause a reflective wave adding turbulence on the seafloor.  As the waves reflect from the seawall, they meet the next incoming wave and the resulting action is a doubling of the wave height,  that also affects the bottom so stopping that reflecting wave is of high importance.   A living shoreline solution for areas of seawall that you cannot move offshore to install the breakwater is Eco-Rap.   First developed in 2015 these modules can be placed along an existing seawall  providing wave attenuation, resilience and as a bonus you get IFH as well as crustaceans. The Eco-Rap in Palmetto, Florida helped in the restoration of sea grass beds close to the seawall.it-is-done

Additional research in seagrass beds has shown an importance of a rock outcropping for the juvenile stone crab to settle, in Florida placing a Reef Ball in a seagrass bed, is not readily accepted,  but that is another things to think of as you working on the extended shoreline.  The small microhabitats are proven to be a great form of restoration.

More information on best practices using Reef Balls will an oral presentation at Restore America’s Estuaries Conference Dec. 2016.    Specific information on using Reef Balls for Shellfish Restoration will be an oral presentation at the International Conference on Shellfish Restoration in November. 


The booth is set up and were ready to share at Shark Con this weekend at the Florida State Fairgrounds.

Eco Kids – Reef Balls at Paradise Cove

Another great article from the Bahamas.


‘Unsustainable Habitat Destruction vs. Artificial Reef Construction’ the topic for EARTHCARE Eco Kids this Easter weekend

FREEPORT, Grand Bahama — On March 26th, 2016, the EARTHCARE Eco Kids Saturday Environmental Education Programme continued at the Rand Nature Centre in conjunction with Cheri Wood, Certified Coral Propagator and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Navigators. Ms. Wood taught the combined group about the largest Reef Ball project in the country in our very own backyard. Ms. Wood, a Certified Coral Propagator, has been intimately involved in the Reef Ball project from its inception. She shared with the group many details of the very exciting science project located at Paradise Cove Beach Resort in Deadman’s Reef on Grand Bahama Island.

The Royal Bahamas Defence Force Navigators with Cheri Wood, Certified Coral Propagator, EARTHCARE Eco Kids with Gail Woon, EARTHCARE Founder and a Director of Save The Bays after an informative lecture by Cheri Wood on the Reef Ball project at Paradise Cove Beach Resort.After the informative lecture, the buses loaded up and the young people headed to the day’s destination: Paradise Cove Beach Resort. Gail Woon, Founder of EARTHCARE and a Director of Save the Bays gave the students a presentation on “Habitat Destruction” complete with visual examples from several Family Islands on the bus ride.“Habitat destruction is one of the five (5) main issues dealt with for Coastal Awareness month in April. Unfortunately, we have examples of unsustainable habitat destruction on many of our islands.

EARTHCARE Eco Kids Faciliatator, Tyrie Moss leads the kayak with passengers, Tylea and Rachelle Manchester out to see the Reef Balls in the glass bottom kayak.“The Bahamas has areas where our coral reefs have suffered immensely from unsustainable mega developments, nutrient pollution from land-based sources and are under threat of further destruction by unsustainable mega developers: Caribbean pine (indigenous/native species) forests that have been bulldozed for mega-projects that never materialized (Ginn Sur Mer, West End, Grand Bahama Island), extensive, valuable, healthy mangrove forests that have been destroyed for resort developments (Resorts World Bimini, North Bimini, a Genting Company) and precious blue holes that have been polluted and in some cases obliterated for various and sundry reasons, such as being used as waste receptacles for chemical companies and then closed with a covering of cement or being used as a garbage can for household refuse.

EARTHCARE Eco Kids, Team Leaders and Gail Woon, Founder of EARTHCARE at Paradise Cove Beach Resort after a fun day of learning and snorkeling on the Reef Balls.

“We were able to show the participants in pictures various examples of habitat destruction from Bimini, Abaco and Grand Bahama etc. Further we were able to suggest possible strategies that are available to the students empowering them to be proactive about their future and the future for their grandchildren,” she said.

Upon arrival at Paradise Cove, the proprietor, Barry Smith, explained proper etiquette and behaviour out on the delicate habitat in the water.

EARTHCARE Eco Kids preparing to snorkel on the Reef Balls with Gail Woon, EARTHCARE.

Reef Balls are used to increase biomass and biodiversity. These Reef Balls are designed artificial reef units. Currently there are over six hundred and thirty-two thousand (632,000) of these deployed in over sixty-two (62) different countries. Reef balls help restore our natural reef systems; they protect our shoreline during storm events and help to nourish the direct marine environment.

Opportunities are available for individuals and the corporate community to become involved in this amazing programme.

The Reef Balls at Paradise Cove Beach Resort with an abundance of fish life.

Mr. Barry Smith, the owner of Paradise Cove, saw the gradual degradation of the reefs off shore of the property over time. He did the research and started the Reef Ball Project at Paradise Cove, the largest one of its kind in the country.

Ms. Woon took the EARTHCARE Eco Kids out to snorkel on the Reef Ball reef that is now in place at Paradise Cove. The students were amazed to see all of the fish living in the Reef Balls.

L-R Cheri Wood, Certified Coral Propagator, Nathanael Smith, Designer of the official EARTHCARE Eco Kids T shirt and winner of the T Shirt Design Competition and Savanna Gibson, EARTHCARE Eco Kids Team Leader as they present Cheri with a shirt and Honorary EARTHCARE Eco Kids membership for her contributions to their learning about the Reef Balls on March 26th 2016.

Paradise Cove owner, Barry Smith, “It feels good to know that our youth are learning about the importance of the ocean and to see how they can make a difference. To me, that is the future for protecting our coral reefs and sustaining our future here in the Bahamas and even the world.”

This installation presents unique opportunities for Bahamians to acquire skill sets, like artificial reef building or coral transplantation, which will become a valuable asset as the nation moves forward; protecting, restoring and repairing the damages humans have inflicted to our beloved ocean.

L-R EARTHCARE Eco Kids, Nathanael Smith, Tylea Manchester aboard the back of Tyrie Moss, EARTHCARE Eco Kids Facilitator, and Rachelle Manchester, EARTHCARE Eco Kid.

Paradise Cove, west of Freeport, was the chosen site for this program due to the owners’ sponsoring abilities and the need of shore protection. Paradise Cove is a TripAdvisor top rated snorkeling destination for residents and tourists alike.

Tyrie Moss, EARTHCARE Eco Kids Facilitator assisted the EARTHCARE Eco Kid from the Beacon School, young Tylea Manchester. Tylea could not join the snorkel groups so Mr. Moss took Tylea and her sister Rachelle in a glass bottom kayak to see the Reef Balls up close.

Nathanael Smith, student from Martin Town Primary. Nathanael designed the EARTHCARE Eco Kids official T shirt, winning the T shirt Design Competition and a cash prize.

The EARTHCARE Eco Kids Team Leaders, Angelina Rahming, Kendira Gembalies, Havana Gibson, Samia Rampersad, Savanna Gibson, and Tristan Rampersad worked hard to keep the students organised and all agreed that they learned a lot during this exciting field trip.

What YOU can do:
• Pay attention to current events.
• Read the newspapers.
• Question everything as it relates to environmental concerns.
• Learn as much as you can about our different habitats so that you understand what it is that we stand to lose by Unsustainable Habitat Destruction.
• After you have educated yourself, spread the word and, teach your friends.
• Make a project of restoring a wetland or other habitat.
• Write letters to Government if you have concerns about any particular project.
• Start or sign a petition about your issue.
• Join an environmental NGO (Non Governmental Organization) such as EARTHCARE, Bahamas National Trust, Save The Bays, Friends of the Environment, BREEF and many others.

EARTHCARE Eco Kids snorkel over the Reef Balls.

EARTHCARE would like to acknowledge sponsors Paradise Cove Beach Resort, H. Forbes Charter, and most of all, Ms. Cheri Wood for all of her very hard work with the youth of The Bahamas. This work would not be possible without the cooperation and support from the parents/guardians of our EARTHCARE Eco Kids, we salute you! For more information on how to join, contact: Gail Woon, EARTHCARE, earthcare.bahamas@yahoo.com, or call 727-0797.