Featured Image Credit: Kim Hairston
By Lindsay Edgar
The bay area off Tilghman Island, Maryland has an interesting new development in its waters. Manmade reef balls were dropped to the seafloor a few weeks ago, and now they are growing baby oysters!
We know what you’re thinking – “did someone just say reef balls?” And before your mind really goes there, we promise to keep this story PG.
A few weeks ago, the Coastal Conservation Association chartered several boats to locations around the Chesapeake Bay and swiftly dropped their newest experimental equipment into the water.
The equipment was not high tech, but rather simple. Upon observation, the mysterious objects don’t really look spherical at all. In fact, they really look more like concrete gumdrops. As 150 of these reef balls were lowered into their new domains, business sponsors, students from the area, and the oysters in the bay all rejoiced at once!
Local Carroll County students used their newfound concrete molding skills to craft the reef balls and were delighted to be a part of the mission. They had learned of the importance of the bay in their social studies classes, and grew passionate about preserving its oysters.
The project aims to use the reef balls as prospective homes for the oysters so they can increase their numbers in safe spaces. Not only are the oysters delighted new tenants, but the human residents in the area are happy too.
If the number of Chesapeake Bay oysters increases, the ecosystem becomes entirely healthier. Since a single adult oyster can effectively filter 6 gallons of water in an hour, the result is cleaner water.
The project is also helping to blend the divide between conservation and industry. In the past, scientists and fishermen have been at odds over how best to harvest the oysters without harming the population. One side wanted to protect the oysters from overfishing. The other side wanted to continue to make a living by catching them.
Now, the oysters can thrive and be caught at the same time. It appears to be a win-win situation down there in the Chesapeake. Stay tuned to watch the good citizens of Maryland restore the bay they call home!