How Do CBF's Oyster Restoration Barges Work?

This one-of-a-kind mobile oyster nursery allows the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to restore the Bay’s oyster population more efficiently than ever, helping microscopic oyster larvae eventually build massive sanctuary reefs that clean and filter our water and provide important habitat for iconic Bay species. The Prudence H. and Louis F. Ryan Mobile Oyster Restoration Center can produce up to 15 million oysters in one season, all supporting CBF’s critical oyster restoration efforts as well as the Chesapeake Oyster Alliance’s work to add 10 billion new oysters to the Bay by 2025.


Bill Newton, CBF Oyster Restoration Maintenance Assistant: I've got 18 million babies.

Text: The world’s first floating oyster nursery.

The Prudence H. and Louis F. Ryan Mobile Oyster Restoration Center.

Newton: These barges can be moved anywhere. You can take them down the creek, take them over the Rappahannock, anywhere. Set them up, use the local water and local resources. If you can grow them in a particular area and keep them there, they're going to do better.

Text: How do the oyster barges work?

First, empty oyster shells are loaded into large tanks by hand or by crane. River water flows into pipes and fills up the tanks. Add millions of tiny oyster larvae that attach to the shells and grow. Pumps constantly circulate new river water. The oysters are taken to sanctuary restoration reefs and planted in the water and onto their new homes.

These barges can produce 15 million oysters per season, supporting Chesapeake Oyster Alliance efforts to add 10 billion oysters to the Bay.  

Oyster reefs filter water, create habitat, and are critical to a healthy Chesapeake Bay. The oyster barges are key to CBF’s vital oyster restoration work.

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