Save the Oyster, Save the Bay: The Orvis Company Supports CBF’s Oyster Restoration Program

At CBF we know how important oysters are to saving the Bay and its rivers and streams. That’s why every year, with the help of generous donors, like The Orvis Company, and hardworking volunteers who donate their time and energy, CBF plants millions of baby oysters in local waters.

  Orvis Logo

This year, CBF is in remarkable company as one of only four organizations chosen as a recipient of The Orvis Company’s 2014 Orvis Customer Matching Grant program. CBF was selected to receive a $30,000 challenge grant from Orvis that will match customer donations 1:1 through the year, up to $30,000.

This challenge grant will support CBF’s oyster restoration work in Maryland and Virginia. Through our Oyster Restoration Centers in Shady Side, Maryland and Gloucester Point, Virginia—and with the help of thousands of volunteers—CBF will build hundreds of concrete reef balls. These reef balls will be set with spat, juvenile oysters, and then deployed onto sanctuary reefs in the Choptank River in Maryland and the Lafayette River in Virginia. (

Ovis Flyer

“Protecting the natural world and a love of the outdoors is not just a corporate commitment, but a way of life that resonates with all of us her at The Orvis Company. That’s why we give 5% of pre-tax profits to protect nature. This year, a portion of this commitment goes towards the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s work in restoring the oyster population that is so critical to the health of the Bay,” said Perk Perkins, CEO of Orvis.

Oysters are a natural filter. They remove algae, sediment, and other pollutants from the Bay and in the process improve water quality and clarity. Their large reefs provide habitat for fish, crabs, and other Bay organisms.

Reef Ball with Black Sea Bass, Photo Credit: Nick Caloyianis
Photo Credit: Nick Caloyianis

Unfortunately, oysters are less plentiful than they were decades ago. In fact, until the 1980s, oysters supported the most valuable fishery in the Bay. Today, as a result of decades of pollution, overharvesting, and disease, the Bay's native oyster population has been estimated at as low as one percent of historic levels.

The good news is that our hard work is paying off. Oysters are more plentiful: Virginia's oyster harvest hit 406,000 bushels for the 2012-2013 season, outpacing the previous year by nearly 60 percent and marking the largest harvest since 1987. In Maryland, the 2012 Fall Oyster Survey showed that oyster population and reproduction increased for the second consecutive year (and is at its highest level since 1999).

But the oysters still need your help! To make a donation, visit, or send cash or check made payable to CBF to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, c/o The Orvis Company, 178 Conservation Way, Sunderland, VT 05250, or make an online purchase at and tack on your donation to your purchase.

Orvis commitment

Looking Back, A Season Of Success Volunteers Make CBF Great!

Let me start by saying, that the native oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay is starting to make a comeback. The number of news articles highlighting the success stories in creeks and rivers up and down the Bay continues to increase! The continued push for using best management practices on land and in the water is making a difference in water quality, but we still have a lot to learn and many seasons of hard work ahead.

Thanks to all the citizens, volunteers, community organizations, and national/state agencies who have taken a STAND FOR THE BAY, you are making a difference so keep your voices loud and proud for Bay restoration!

Take a look at CBF's Maryland Spat production from last year: 

MD spat production 2003-2013
In 2013 MD's Oyster Team Spread 23.8 million baby oysters 'spat' on 6 reefs,

ISavedTheBayTodayEach summer at CBF's Maryland Oyster Restoration Center,  we have a an intern or two and a group of regular volunteers. In the summer of 2010 under the direction of Dan Johannes, a member of MD's Oyster Restoration Team, and a former intern Rebeccca Price aka 'Becky', created the "I Saved The Bay Today" wall at our Oyster Restoration Center in Shady Side, MD. This wall has taken on a life of it's own every season. Volunteers of all ages are eager to sign the wall. We have had many corporate groups and schools add their logos to the wall. It really is a work of art. Many regular volunteers have come up with their own system of adding multiple dates, stars, or harsh marks next to their name to keep track of their repeated visits to the oyster center over the past three seasons. Well guess what? All of our amazing volunteers have just about filled the wall and we are trying to figure out what to do next! What do you think?...Do we just expand to another wall inside our workshop? Do we build a new sliding wall in front? Do we paint over and start again keeping a poster image of the original? If you have an ideas for upgrading the "I Saved The Bay Today" wall to version 2.0 we are all ears. 


(Below are just a few photos highlights of the Wall, if you would like to see more vist our Facebook Page.)

IMG_0828 IMG_1393









Oyster Rest-2012-07-20-114 Oyster Rest-2012-07-20-111









Oyster Rest-2012-07-20-105

















We would love to hear your feedback about what to do with the wall next! We whole-heartedly appreciate all of the volunteers that come to the Oyster Restoration Center each season, and we want to continue to make it an enjoyable experience! 

Please contact, Carmera Thomas at to give us any ideas you have for the "I Saved the Bay Today" wall.

Thanks! See you this Spring!

Keep The Shell Flowing




As 2013 comes to a close, generally the oyster restoration world is slowing down and planning ahead for the next season, but oyster shell recycling is about to hit its peak! Many famililes that live in the Chespeake Bay watershed are avid consumers of oysters during the Holiday Season (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's). We appreciate your love for oysters and all we ask is that you recycle your oyster shells instead of throwing them into the trash or adding them to your driveway.

1. So you might be asking yourself why is recyling oyster shells really so important?

Why Save Oyster Shell (2013)

2. How much shell has CBF recycled so far this year (2013)?

Citizens have dropped off (x) amount of shell at the following locations:

  • CBF's Headquarters Annapolis, MD - 129.6 bushels
  • Starbucks Severna Park, MD - 60.6 bushels
  • Oak Grove Marina Edgewater, MD - 11 bushels
  • Discovery Village Shady Side, MD - 2.2 bushels
  • Breezy Point Marina Chesapeake Beach - (just started the program but collected 2 SOS collection bins full by years end)

Participating restaurants have collected and dropped off (x) amount of shell:

  • May's Resturant Fredrick, MD - 183.4
  • Stoney Kingfishers Solomon's Island, MD - 15.3

**As of 12/18/2013 volunteers have helped to collect/recycle 402.1 bushels**

Official 2013 Total- volunteers helped CBF MD's SOS Program collect/recycle 452.4 bushels




3. How much shell did CBF recycle last year (2012)?

344 Bushels

4. What will happen to shells after they are dropped off at one of CBF's five public drop off locations in Maryland?

Each oyster shell that is recycled is aged for at least one year at CBF's Maryland Oyster Restoration Facility in Shady Side, MD. When the shells are needed for a restoration project they are cleaned by a process known as shell shaking, placed in a setting tank with oyster larvae (spat) for 10-14 days, and then the new generation of baby oysters (spat) is placed on sanctuary (non-harvest) reefs in the Chesapeake Bay. Each newly set shell will take on on a 3-Dimensional shape within the first year; adding to the health/biomass of the reef, as well as providing habitat for hundreds of critters that live and forage on oyster reefs. Oysters serve two major roles in the Bay's ecosystem; filtering and habitat. Without a healthy oyster population, the Bay's health will be unable to rebound. Over the past several years the adult and juvenile oyster populations have continued to improve. We can't stop now, we must stay strong in our efforts to Save The Bay! We are half way there, lets finish the race!

IMG_3613 Two Week Old Spat On Shell Toadfish With Mature Oysters

5. I have heard there is a tax credit for recycling your oyster shell in Maryland. Where can I learn more about the program and sign up?

Individuals/Caters: Individuals and Caters are eligible to receive a $1 Maryland tax credit beginning July 2013 for every bushel of oyster and clam shell that is recycled and returned to the State’s inventory. Up to $750 annually may be credited. To become a member of the Shell Recycling Alliance, begin receiving your tax credit or learn more about the program where you can recycle your shell, visit

Volunteers: If you are interested in collecting and recycling shell for the Shell Recycling Alliance, you are eligible a $.14 per mile tax deduction for the mileage you drove in support of the charity / recycling effort. Please contact the Shell Recycling Alliance to learn about volunteer efforts. Consult with your tax advisor for your tax deductibility for your volunteer contribution. Visit

6. Does CBF have the same program in Virginia?

Yes our Viriginia Oyster Restoration Team also runs an oyster restoration center, model oyster aquaculture farm, and recycles oyster shell. To learn more about their operation please visit or contact Jackie Shannon at


If you have any questions about CBF's shell recyling program or oyster restoration in general please contact

--Meghan Hoffman

It's That Time Of Year Again, Monitoring Oyster Reefs One Tong At A Time


Jonas Green Oyster Reef Sign 2013
Jonas Green Reef Interprative Trail Sign (Dual Language)


Captian Karl Willey Shaft Tonging
1_Jonas Green Site Map
Jonas Green Reef, Severn River MD.

Now that oyster larvae is now longer available, it's time to review the sanctuary oyster reefs that MD's Oyster Restoration Team seeded this year and monitor the conditions. Recently on a mild day the crew headed out in Oyster Stew (21 foot Carolina Skiff) to monitor the newly seeded sections of Jonas Green Reef in the Severn River. Captain Karl Willey and crew use shaft tongs to pull up small sections of the reef and collect data before returning the oysters back to the reef. Anchoring the boat and using a pair of shaft tongs in one location a small area of the reef can be cleared, data collected, and then analyzed later on back at the office. Most times this takes putting the shaft tongs on bottom in the same place four to six times. After the sample is brought aboard the shells are quickly cleaned off to make accessing the survival rates easier. On each reef site it's important to take several random samples throughout the site. This provides greater insight into what going on below the surface. Is one area of the reef doing better than another? Are there any predators such a flatworms present on the reef? Is there any evidence that the reef is reproducing?

Oysters Clumps Getting Rinsed Off.

So you are anxious to know, how is the reef doing? Jonas Green is a healthy and thriving reef. All of the samples included a number of healthy yearling oysters and/or baby spat. In every natural environment some mortality is expected. The samples revealed normal to high survival on this reef. One note that we want to keep our eye on is the presence of flatworms (round worm that is predator to oysters but naturally occurring the Chesapeake Bay) on this reef.

Flat Worm 1
Flatworm, Oyster Predator

The millions of baby oyster 'spat' that were seeded this year have more than doubled in size in most cases and appear to be thriving. The larger yearling oysters remain in clumps with very little die off noticed after their first year on the reef. This a great sign! The conditions in the Severn River have not triggered a spawning event this season. After storm events the pulses of fresh water from the headwaters of the river is one factor limiting the Severn's spawning potential. Historically the Severn River didn't see 'spat' sets as frequently as other areas in the Bay. However historically the Eastern Oyster has survived/thrived in the Severn River. Oysters are making their comeback one creek, bay, river, and tributary at a time in the Chesapeake Bay. Each season more success stories are revealed in both Maryland and Virginia waters of the Chesapeake Bay, please continue to support oyster restoration in the Chesapeake Bay.

Measuring Baby 'Spat' & Recording Data


-Article by Meghan Hoffman and photos by CBF Staff & Partners

Maryland Oyster Update- Things Are Looking Good

CBF's 2013 Maryland Oyster Restoration Season At A Glance

Spat On Shell 1

IMG_1236 Bill Burton Reef Partner Banners


22.4 Million Spat on Shell

324 Bushels of Recycled Oyster Shell

273,000 Spat on Reef Ball (expected to increase slightly)

303 Reef Balls Set With Spat

Working with partners MARI, DNR, and the Park Serive; CBF began work on a new artifical reef at the Bill Burton Fishing Pier in Cambridge, MD (Dedication Event Oct. 5th, 2013) 

10 Oyster Gardening Events To Date (for current gardeners to return yearling oysters and pick up new spat)

5 Oyster Gardening Workshops (for new gardeners to enter the program by attending a one time workshop and build 4 cages to start their own oyster garden)


-As MD's 2013 Oyster Restoration Season comes to an end a few numbers will likely increase, (woot woot) so stay tuned for more updates coming soon.-

If you have any questions or want to learn more please contact


-Meghan Hoffman (photos by CBF Oyster Restoraiton Staff and Volunteers)

New Reef Construction- Knitting Mill Creek

In the past few weeks, a new reef was completed in the Lafayette River in Norfolk Va. Knitting Mill Creek Reef is composed of crushed concrete that will be covered in spat on shell in the coming weeks. Last week, on July 1st, the VA Oyster Team with the help of a volunteer raked out the piles of crushed concrete so we could plant over 1 million spat on shell! The spat babies were very happy with their new home! The VA Oyster Team will be getting larvae this week to do a full set of 7 tanks of spat on shell to plant on the Knitting Mill Creek Reef lat
er in July!  PicstitchPicstitch

Oyster Shell Recycling Tax Credit In Maryland Starts July 1st 2013

This is a thumbs up for oyster recycling awareness! We already have many individuals and restaurants supporting the program, tell a friend/neighbor let's grow the number. Volunteers have dropped over over 360 bushel since January, keep the shell coming. 


Weather you already recycle your oyster shell with CBF or our partner ORP-Oyster Recovery Partnership Shell Recycling Alliance you need to register so your shell donations can be tracked. Maybe you have never heard of shell recycling and wondering what the shell, all the buzz is about! Watch this video to learn more. Oyster recycling bins to help replenish population | Maryland News - WBAL Home

If you have extra time and a pickup truck the MD Oyster Team is always looking for volunteers to help manage our drop of bins. Volunteers help monitor one or more SOS (Save Oyster Shell) Bin and bring the 'green' oyster shells to our central facility in Shady Side, Maryland to age for at least one year. Email with questions or get involved. 


How Do Organizations Like CBF Recycle Oyster Shell?

Spat on shellThe fresh oyster shell, is referred to as green shell. It still has organic material attached to the shell and could potentially transmit disease from one location to another if placed back into the water without aging. So we collect oyster shell and let it age at our Oyster Restoration Center in Shady Side, Maryland; our partners also have several locations around the state of Maryland for aging oyster shell. Oyster shells are essential to restoration of the Chesapeake Bay, aged half shells are used as homes for baby oysters (spat) like the shell in the photo. Your recycled shells are placed in one of four setting tanks at CBF's Oyster Center along with of water, oxygen, and millions of microscopic oyster larvae. The larvae swim in the tanks for 24-48 hours before settling out and attaching to the shells. After a 10-14 days in the tank these young spat-on-shell will be planted using our vessel the Patricia Campbell

Where Can I Bring My Oyster Shell?

Save Oyster Shell Drop Off Locations MD

Register Today

Recycle Oyster Shells


Individuals/Caters: Individuals and Caters are eligible to receive a $1 Maryland tax credit beginning July 2013 for every bushel of oyster and clam shell that is recycled and returned to the State’s inventory. Up to $750 annually may be credited. To become a member of the Shell Recycling Alliance, begin receiving your tax credit or learn more about the program where you can recycle your shell, visit

Volunteers: If you are interested in collecting and recycling shell for the Shell Recycling Alliance, you are eligible a $.14 per mile tax deduction for the mileage you drove in support of the charity / recycling effort. Please contact the Shell Recycling Alliance to learn about volunteer efforts. Consult with your tax advisor for your tax deductibility for your volunteer contribution. Visit


-Meghan Hoffman

2013 MD Oyster Restoration Season Update

Just in case you were wondering Maryland's Oyster Center has produced (x) so far in 2013.

-Set 10 tanks (sets) of Spat On Shell yielding 10,880,066 baby 'spat' oysters

-Set 5 tanks (sets) of Spat On Reef Ball, that's 182 reef balls / oyster + critter condominiums out in the bay 

-Recycled 268.4 bushels of shell (Save Oyster Shell)

-Turned one of our four tanks over local watermen in the area switching to aquaculture for the remainder of the season. A great outreach program connecting watermen and CBF with the common goal of clean water and a HEALTHY Chesapeake Bay!

Blog graph Graph 2

Things are looking great so far this season. Keep your fingers crossed that the oyster larvae being produced at UMD's Horn Point Laboratory remain healthy and strong so we can have another banner year. 


- Meghan Hoffman

Tales Of A Passionate Oyster Gardener, Jamie Attanasio!

Jamie 1I have had the pleasure of working with Jame Attanasio and her parents since taking over the Oyster Gardening Program at CBF in 2010, yet her passion extends my tenure begining as a oyster gardener back to 2008. Jamie just completed her freshman year in high school in Montgomery County, but everytime I have a chance to catch up with Jamie she is involved in something new; she is young and full of adventure. Her passion for the critters and making the Chespeake Bay healthier, remains steadfast. Her inital oyster garden of 4 cages (which is the standard) has grown to 18 cages at Oak Grove Marina on the South River.  How many baby oysters has she raised, you ask? Why almost 60,000 thousand oysters, that is impressive! 


For the past three years she has also represented CBF and Oyster Gardening at Rockville Science Day.  Each year it attendance grows, with now over 3,000 people attending. Jamie, with the help of her friends and family, think of new and creative ways to teach/showcase the wonders of oysters for all ages to enjoy each year. Since she is still young herself, she had done a fabulous job connecting with the kids who line up to see and take part in activites at the 'cool oyster booth'. 

Jamie #3Jamie (far right) and friends at Rockville Science Day

The Attanasio family (Kevin, Ann, & Jamie) spend their free time boating in the Chespeake Bay near the South River. Kevin, Jamie's father, who comes from a family of watermen in New York, likes to help Jamie produce the biggest healthiest young oysters she can each season. So a little brainstorming and a few trips to the local hardware store later, all 18 oysters cages have been modified to help with maintaing the oysters and to protect the boats in the marina. The Attanasio family added simple PVC tubes on either side of the cages, thus making them buoyant and very visable. The tubes are slighly longer than the cages to protect the boats moving in and out of slips from dings and scratches. This adapted cage style keeps the oysters  at the top of the water column during the warmer months where food and oxygen are more abundant. During the cold winter months they remove the tubing and sink the cages, suspending each one just off the bottom to protect the precious baby oysters from the cold air during blow out tides. 

FloatsJamie's mom, Ann helping to unload oysters from cages

I want to end on a note of thanks. Jamie and her family are incredible stewards of the Chesapeake Bay and make my job very rewarding. Jamie Attanasio is a young leader I can't wait to see what adventures await her in the future. She will do great things, and she is ensuring her path in life promotes clean water and nature. 

Jamie young

If you want to become a CBF Oyster Gardener please visit our webiste and sign up for a workshop later in the fall. 

-Meghan Hoffman (photos courtesy of myself and the Attanasio Family)

Jame plus meghan