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Chesapeake Bay Reef Balls Update Oct 2016

December 7, 2016 by Reef Innovations  

YRSCB Participates in CBF Oyster Reef Building

CBF Oyster Ball Reef Workshop, October 18, 2016

We 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.”


YRSCB 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<

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