The Chesapeake's oyster has influenced the economy, community, songs, and stories of the Eastern Shore for centuries, and even though the Bay currently has just 1 percent of its historic oyster population, it remains a part of our lives in immeasurable ways.
Over the past few years, communities and organizations have rallied together to work on restoring this beloved bivalve to our tidal rivers. From Save our Shell campaigns to CBF oyster gardening, the community has worked together to help bring the oyster back.Bill Burton Fishing Pier in Cambridge, Md. On that Saturday, we will be putting the finishing touches on a new sanctuary reef just off the pier and celebrating a summer of hard work and dedication to oyster restoration.
Our oyster team, on board CBF's oyster boat the Patricia Campbell, will wrap up a summer of restoration work by lowering the final reef balls, seeded with baby oysters or "spat" into the water. This particular project represents a partnership with the fisheries team of Maryland's Department of Natural Resources and Maryland Saltwater Sportfishing Association, and has relied heavily on assistance from committed volunteers.
These oysters will help to clean and filter the waters of the Choptank as it flows towards the Chesapeake Bay. We also hope that the increased diversity of habitat will help attract more of the critters who live on oyster reefs and improve the fishing off the pier. To help keep track of which species of fish live on the reef, Maryland Saltwater Sportfishing Association representatives have been fishing off the pier and recording the number of fish they catch, as well as the species. They will continue to do so after the final reef balls have been placed and record comparisons.
Be sure to join us at this exciting event and take the opportunity to catch CBF's Patricia Campbell in action, see fishing demos, and plant some oysters on the sanctuary reef yourself. Of course, through it all, you will have the opportunity to learn more about this iconic Chesapeake species.
--Bess Trout, CBF's Eastern Shore Grassroots Field Specialist