Defying Expectations in Baltimore's Inner Harbor


Baltimore oyster gardeners celebrate planting their oysters on a sanctuary reef in the Patapsco River.

CBF Staff

For the past five years, hundreds of thousands of oysters have found an unlikely home. Thanks to the Great Baltimore Oyster Partnership, a collaboration between Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), Baltimore's Inner Harbor has some new residents.

What began as a way to engage corporate business owners and their employees in Bay restoration, specifically oyster gardening, grew into so much more. The commitment of volunteers and the resiliency of oysters defied expectations. Since 2014 over 400,000 baby oysters, also known as spat-on-shell, grew in Baltimore's Inner Harbor and were planted on a sanctuary reef in the Patapsco River.

Students study the oysters they planted in Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

CBF Staff

Seeing the success, in April 2016, Waterfront Partnership partnered with CBF to hire a shared program manager position and form a more intentional partnership between the two organizations. The program manager helps to increase awareness and environmental stewardship and coordinates the Greater Baltimore Oyster Partnership program.

The five-year-old program now includes over 600 volunteers through community engagement and Baltimore City public school students.

With two public locations, one of which has 100 cages filled with growing oysters, it makes the program far more accessible to people with limited time and exposes many more people to Baltimore's marine ecosystem. The students involved in the program commit to a semester-long project; including building cages, installing spat, monthly cleanings, and in-class investigations.

In the spring the volunteers also have an opportunity to board CBF's education vessel, the Snow Goose to plant their oysters on the Patapsco River sanctuary. It's always a thrill planting oysters with the volunteers that grew them, especially considering some of the volunteers have never been on a boat before! Seeing their fear turn to excitement and joy is incredibly rewarding.

Not only does this program raise awareness about solutions to reduce pollution in the Harbor and the Chesapeake Bay, the oysters planted on the reef are a part of a larger effort to increase the oyster population in the Bay watershed.

Take a peak into the program in action—

Video courtesy Waterfront Partnership Baltimore

Carmera Thomas, Program Manager - Healthy Harbor Initiative

Issues in this Post

Fisheries   Community   Eastern Oysters   Fisheries   Restoration   Volunteers   Water Quality   CBF in Maryland   Maryland Office, Annapolis  


The views and opinions expressed in the media or articles on this site are those of the speakers or authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions held by CBF and the inclusion of such information does not imply endorsement by CBF. CBF is not responsible for the contents of any linked Website, or any link contained in a linked Website, or any changes or updates to such Websites. The inclusion of any link is provided only for information purposes.

Support the Chesapeake Bay Foundation

Your donation helps the Chesapeake Bay Foundation maintain our momentum toward a restored Bay, rivers, and streams for today and generations to come.

Donate Today

Save the Bay

Founded in 1967, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) is the largest independent conservation organization dedicated solely to saving the Bay.

Save the Bay
This website uses cookies to tailor and enhance your online experience. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For more information, including details on how to disable cookies, please visit our Privacy Policy. Close