This Chesapeake Bay Reef is the World’s Largest Oyster Restoration Project

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Harris Creek restoration (Nature Conservancy)
Harris Creek restoration (Nature Conservancy)

Billions of bivalves just arrived in the Bay. Earlier this month, crews finished seeding a giant oyster reef near Harris Creek on the Eastern Shore. The Nature Conservancy, which is leading the effort, is touting the Cheseapeake Bay project as the largest oyster restoration project in the world.

The reef comes in at 350 acres, which is bigger than the National Mall. And it was seeded with 2 billion oysters, which were bred at a University of Maryland hatchery.

The Bay’s oyster population is threatened by external forces like overfishing, and a pair of diseases. The bivalves in the new reef were bred to be resistant to the diseases.

Oysters also help clean the Bay of pollution, so scientists believe the giant reef could play a role in reducing in the nitrogen that literally chokes marine life when it flows into the Bay from fertilizer.

Now that it’s up and running, experts will be sitting back and monitoring what’s happening as nature takes it course. But the teams that built the reef aren’t done. They’re also building restoration projects in the Tred Avon and Little Choptank rivers.

Check out the state’s fact sheet for more info on the project.

Stephen Babcock

Stephen Babcock is the editor of Baltimore and an editor-at-large of Baltimore Fishbowl.

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