Oyster aquaculture Feed

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 www.shellrecycling.org

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 www.shellrecycling.org



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 http://www.cbf.org/how-we-save-the-bay/programs-initiatives/virginia/oyster-restoration or contact Jackie Shannon at jshannon@cbf.org.


If you have any questions about CBF's shell recyling program or oyster restoration in general please contact cthomas@cbf.org

--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

What Is Your Favorite Oyster Reef Critter?


"Of All The Exciting Species Living On Oyster Reefs In Maryland Waters Of The Chesapeake Bay, Pipefish  Are Mesmerizing And Just Captivate My Attention!"- Meghan Hoffman/CBF Staff

These small fish, related to seahorses, can be found hiding among oyster shells and underwater grasses in the Bay. Each oyster season I get exhilarated when I come across the Northern Pipefish as I lift an oyster cage out of the water, it is very rare to see 2 or 3 sightings! After a few moments of joy, then show and tell with other staff and volunteers, we all bid the pipefish farewell. If you have never had the pleasure of holding one in your hand, it can best be described as holding a squirming twig, it's unlike any other Bay critter and seeing one always make my day!

Pipfish_joe renyoldsPhoto by- Joe Reynolds

 "A little known fact about the pipefish is that it can move each of its eyes separately, although we don’t know exactly how this helps it."- Rugters Discover Fish Field Guide


"Blennies are my favorite Bay critter! I think they are so notorious and they look like little old men. Unlike other small fish around oyster reefs that hide, a blenny has no problem attacking your finger or any other fish that moves into its house!" -Carmera Thomas/CBF Staff

Blennies_bay.netPhoto by- Chesapeake Bay Program

An oyster reef is not complete without its own version of the mafia; "the blenny," is a species that always keeps order around the reef. Two different species (feathered and striped blenny) are predominate in the Maryland tributaries of the Bay. These fish grow to about 4 inches in length and are very feisty when you enter ‘their’ territory. These active fish will dart out, flair open their mouths and puff up their bodies to let humans and other critters to stay out of their neighborhood. They even try to put up a fight out of the water. Good news is, they don't pose any immediate danger to humans, they are all bark and no bite! 

Skillet Fish

“The first time I picked up a skillet fish it attached to my hand, which was a little terrifying, but I grew to enjoy finding them among the oyster cages and they are now my favorite critter. The Skillet Fish is the most resilient and interesting critter found among oyster reefs in Maryland. ” - Emily Rieck/CBF Oyster Intern

Skilltetfish_vimsPhoto by- Virginia Institute of Marine Science 

A skillet fish's most unique feature is its sucker! How many fish can top that? Evolution modified its pelvic fin into a sucker, what a stand out feature. If you have every tried to remove one from a fish tank or your dock they are tricky and determined to stay put.  Its almost cheetah-print like pattern is beautiful. This pattern allows the skillet fish to camouflage itself in shallow water, to hide and survive in the reef. 

Skilletfish_disk_vimsPhoto by- Virginia Institute of Marine Science

American Eel

 “Let’s be honest, the American eel is the most patriotic fish on the oyster reef.” –Ray McClain/ Chesapeake Conservation Corps Volunteer, CBF

Illustration by- MD Department of Natural Resources, 
Duanne Raver

What is so great about the American eel? Well, besides having “America” right in its name, this slippery fish lives a quite mysterious life. The American eel is one of the few fish species that is catadromous (living in fresh water but migrating to saltwater to breed). While the eel lives in the more freshwater areas of Chesapeake Bay, every January this mysterious creature will swim out to the saltwater of the Sargasso Sea to spawn at depths near 6,000 feet. If that is not cool enough, this fish can breathe through its skin!

--Meghan Hoffman with contribution by Emily Rieck, Carmera Thomas, and Ray McClain 

Keep The Shell Flowing


Chespeake Bay Foundation's Save Oyster Shell program just keeps growing. Since 2010 CBF's oyster team in Maryland has been recycling oyster shells. Shell is a limited resource and as restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay continue to grow, recycling every shell matters.

CBF's Maryland Save Oyster Shell (SOS) program targets individuals who eat oysters and smaller communtiy oyster roasts. In the past three years the program has expanded from one site at our Oyster Restoration Center in Shady Side, MD to four drop off locations and two particpating resturants. Each year our success continues to grow through the enthusiam of the volunteers that are the backbone of this program. 


Just before the holidays the oyster collection bin outside CBF' headquarters in Annapolis was full, it was emptied one last time for the year in a effort to calculate how much shell the program recycled in 2012. Nearly doubling last years effort, our volunteers helped recycle 344 bushels of oyster shells. If that wasn't a good enough suprise in itself, what happened next blew our minds away.

In the span, just shy of a week beteween Christmas and New Year's, the bin at headquarters went from completely empty to over full! What a way to start the new year. I am happy to report just as I was placing the finishing touches on this blog an email came through that bin located in Severna Park, MD is full as well. Hip Hip Hooray! 2013 off to a great start already. To learn more about CBF's Save Oyster Shell program please visit, http://www.cbf.org/how-we-save-the-bay/programs-initiatives/virginia/oyster-restoration/save-oyster-shell . If you have an questions or want to volunteer please contact cthomas@cbf.org. 


MDH iphone oysters pictures 006 IMG_4669

















-Article and Photos by CBF Staff, Meghan Hoffman