December 3, 2023
Annapolis, US 51 F

Planting oysters in the Severn River

Yesterday, I had the chance to watch a reef being born. And that is not too much of an exaggeration. The Oyster Recovery Partnership and the Severn River Association have teamed up to make the Severn River (and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay) healthier for everyone–humans, plants, and animals.

Yesterday morning, 15 million spat (baby oysters) were brought into the Severn River by the Robert Lee, an oyster planting vessel operated by the Oyster Recovery Partnership. The spat were purchased from the Horn Point Oyster Hatchery outside Cambridge.

Many years ago, the US Army Corps of Engineers identified the spots in the Severn River that would be good beds to host an oyster reef and yesterday, we were observing one off near the mouth of Weems Creek and the Wardour neighborhood of West Annapolis.

The Oyster Recovery Partnership and the Severn River Association hope to plant 50 million spat this year which they expect 2.5 million to survive. While not a great survival rate, those 2.5 million oysters will be able to naturally filter up to 50 gallons of water each day–per oyster. If my math is correct that is 125 million gallons per day.

Yesterday was just the start. There will be other plantings as well and the Oyster Recovery Partnership and Severn River Association need help. The planting yesterday was made possibly by shell recycling from restaurants as well as purchased spat and shells.

The process was fascinating to watch as the Robert Lee circled the waters and a high pressure hose blasted the spat-on-shells over the side setting the stage for a new reef to make the river more healthy for everyone. Watermark had a special sailing of the Lady Sarah to witness this first planting.

This effort is not without cost. You can buy a bushel of spat-on-shells for $100, or you can buy a portion. Even a contribution as little as $5 will help make our rivers and Bay cleaner for everyone.  Learn more here. And if there is another Watermark cruise to watch this–take it!


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