Oysters Feed

Keep The Shell Flowing

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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

OUR GOAL FOR 2013 IS 500 BUSHELS OF SHELL.

HELP US REACH OUR GOAL! RECYCLE YOUR SHELL!

 

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

http://www.oysterrecovery.org/sra_forms/SRA_Reg.html

http://www.oysterrecovery.org/maryland-tax-benefits-with-shell-recycling/

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


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)

 

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Captian Karl Willey Shaft Tonging
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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?

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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.

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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.

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Measuring Baby 'Spat' & Recording Data

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


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. 

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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 DJohannes@cbf.org 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 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

http://www.oysterrecovery.org/sra_forms/SRA_Reg.html

http://www.oysterrecovery.org/maryland-tax-benefits-with-shell-recycling/

 

-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!

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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! 

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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)

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Early 2013 Oyster Restoration Highlights In Maryland

 

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The 2013 oyster restoration season in Maryland has busy from day one. At MD's Oyster Restoration Center we are already on our second 'spat' set in the tanks. The four tanks were filled with spat-on-shell for the first set!  The first set totaled over 7 million spat, that is just fantastic! These 4 tanks were overseeded on an exisiting project in the Choptank River at Cooks Point that contains spat-on-shell, as well as spat on reef ball. Stay tuned to see where the next batch of oysters will call home. 

1st Tank Set 2013

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IMG_0431Each Spring we ask the volunteers in Maryland's Oyster Gardening Program to return their yearling oysters in May so they can be placed out on a sanctuary reef early in the season. As oyster populations in the Bay continue to improve in health and abundance, we hope to see more spawning (breeding) in Maryland waters. Between May 1st through 5th, volunteers and I helped collect and plant over 100,000 yearling oysters. These oyster were planted in the Severn River, South River, Kent Narrows, Miles River, and Patuxent River. A special thanks to Kevin Green from the South River and Kurt Hein from the Patuxent River for lending their time to help make plantings in their river a sucess. Keep up the good work gardeners!

They support CLEAN WATER, do you?


2013 Oyster Gardening Yearling Returns

Oysters are essential to the health of the Chespeake Bay; scientists in Virginia and Maryland recently found that restored oyster reefs in the Chesapeake Bay can absorb up to 10 times more nitrogen than areas of the estuary without healthy reefs.  This study provided new evidence that replanting and rebuilding oyster reefs can clean up the nation’s largest estuary, according to the researchers. Take a look here:  “Denitrification and Nutrient Assimilation on a Restored Oyster Reef.”

-- Meghan Hoffman (CBF Staff)

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What Is Your Favorite Oyster Reef Critter?

Pipefish

"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

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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

Blenny

"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

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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

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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. 

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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. 

 

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-Article and Photos by CBF Staff, Meghan Hoffman

 


Record Season for CBF's Maryland Oyster Restoration Center

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CBF’s Maryland Oyster Restoration Center in Shady Side (Photo by Karl Willey/CBF Staff)

 

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Several of the 23 million ‘spat’ produced this year at MD’s Oyster Restoration Center. At this size approximately 2 weeks old they are placed our on a sanctuary reef to grow immediately they start to improve water quality and provide 3-dimensional habitat (Photo by Meghan Hoffman/CBF Staff)

At Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Oyster Restoration Center in Shady Side, Maryland it has been a recording setting season, with just over 23 million ‘spat’ (baby oysters) seeded on oysters reefs between May and October. Typically the center averages a ‘spat’ production between 15-18 million. We are ecstatic with this season’s numbers and the health of the young oysters being placed on sanctuary reefs throughout Maryland’s waters in the bay. Our success each season is due to the hard work and dedication of our volunteers

 

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CBF Staff and volunteers about to seed ‘spat’ on shell on an oyster reef (Photo by Meghan Hoffman/CBF Staff)

 

At the Oyster Restoration Center in Shady Side, MD, we are especially indebted, as much of what we do would be nearly impossible without the help of our volunteers. Whether they have given us their time for year, a matter of weeks, or for just one event each and every one is an integral part of what makes the work we do possible. Many come from different backgrounds of discipline and are experts in varying fields, and each provides their own invaluable knowledge to the oyster restoration program.

 

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CBF’s MD Oyster Center’s 2012 Oyster Restoration Focus Areas

 

This season MD’s oyster restoration efforts were focused in the Choptank, Severn, and West Rivers. All of CBF’s projects in Maryland waters occur in sanctuary (non-harvest) areas as designated by Governor O’Malley.  After building or re-seeding existing reefs CBF’s oyster team monitors the health of our reefs checking for density, survival, natural ‘spat’ set, and presence of disease. The monitoring data is very encouraging; generally the reefs after one year have better than 75% survival rate. That is great news for the Chesapeake Bay. Check out what is going on below the surface.  The learn more about our program please visit our website. If you have any questions or want to volunteer please contact cthomas@cbf.org

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A Toadfish blending in among healthy mature oysters in Choptank River (Photo by Michale Eversmier)
Black Sea Bass With Reef Ball In Choptank
This oyster reef in the Choptank River is healthy and thriving. Rare sighting of a Black Sea Bass in Maryland waters, yet another signs restoration is working (Photo by Michale Eversmier)

--Meghan Hoffman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Things Are ‘Spat’astic at CBF’s New Office in Easton, MD

On June 11, 2012 the Chesapeake Bay Foundation opened a new office on the Eastern Shore (pictured below), located in the heart of Easton. The new office in the Bullitt House on E. Dover Street (right across from the Tidewater Inn) will directly support our efforts to defend and implement the Bay clean water blueprint in Maryland.

CBF's MD Oyster Gardening Program was established in 1998 and has been serving as a method of direct engagement with improving the Bay's water quality for more than a decade. The fight for clean water is well under way but more needs to be done. CBF's Eastern Shore office is focusing on educating and motivating citizens to help support clean water efforts and fighting back against efforts to increase pollution in the area.

Clean Water Now With Oysters

On September 14th and September 22nd CBF's MD Oyster Gardeners stopped by Chesapeake BayFoundation's new office in Easton, MD to meet Bess Trout, MD's Eastern Shore Grassroots Field Specialist (shown below), and to pick up their new set of 'spat' from Meghan Hoffman and Carmera Thomas. Year after year CBF's oyster gardeners' on the Eastern Shore produce some great looking oysters.

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Excited new gardeners Lee Travers and Barbara Catherwood (both shown in the photo below) attended CBF's Oyster Workshop on Sept 22nd and built 8 cages to hang off their pier. Recently they purchased a 10 acre tract of land (4 acres of wetlands) on the Little Choptank and were eager to help SAVE THE BAY!

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Noah Bradshaw (shown below) a long time gardener from Crisfield, MD made the drive to Easton to pick up 8 bags of 'spat'. With the help of several volunteers, he tends a collection of Taylor Floats and cages at the Crisfield Museum. There is an educational oyster reef at the museum where visitors can learn the history of oystering in a watermen's community, and enjoy an interactive experience of tonging up oysters using hand nippers.

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Just as the event was winding down on the first official day of fall, Eric Axilbund (shown below) pulls into the Bullit House parking lot eager to pick up his new set of 'spat' and to drop off close to 4,000 large and healthy yearling oysters. He is an energetic and enthusiastic gardener that keeps 12 cages of oysters off his dock, while a typical gardener keeps four. Most gardeners return their 'spat' in May, but Mr. Axilbund likes to see how big his oysters will get, so he tends his cages for a full year. His contribution doubled our oyster returns for the day!

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CBF's Maryland Oyster Gardening Program only has two workshops left this fall, and we look forward to signing up new gardeners who are excited about restoring an important species in the Bay! Individual actions do make a difference, make a stand for CLEAN WATER NOW and join CBF's Oyster Gardening Program.

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(Photos by Meghan Hoffman/CBF Staff. Photo One: CBF's Eastern Shore Office on the 3rd Floor of the Bullit Building. Photo Two: Choose Clean Water Now! and 2012 Oyster Gardening 'Spat' on Shell. Photo Three: Bess Trout CBF's Eastern Shore Grassroots Field Specialist covered in oyster much at Horn Point Labratory. Photo Four: Lee Travers and Barbara Catherwood of Cambridge, MD making their oyster gardening cages. Photo Five: Oyster Gardener Noah Bradshaw of Crisfield, MD. Photo Six: Oyster Gardener Eric Axilbund with his 2012 crop of yearling oysters. Photo Six: Oyster Love, Stickers, 'Spat' and More.)

-- Meghan Hoffman with contribution from Carmera Thomas