Shady Side 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

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

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

Early 2013 Oyster Restoration Highlights In Maryland


IMG_0731 IMG_0721

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


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)


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, . If you have an questions or want to volunteer please contact 


MDH iphone oysters pictures 006 IMG_4669

















-Article and Photos by CBF Staff, Meghan Hoffman


Record Season for CBF's Maryland Oyster Restoration Center

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


Two Week Old Spat On Shell
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


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.


2012 ORC Restoration Focus Areas
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

Toadfish With Mature Oysters
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









CBF's Yearly MD Oyster Gardening Trip To Horn Point ('Spat' Attack)

This year’s annual trip to Horn Point Lab/ Hatchery (HPL) was on August 22nd, 2012 in Cambridge Maryland to pick up CBF’s supply of ‘spat’-on-shell bags for MD’s Oyster Gardening Program, was nothing short of a great success.  Half the volunteers arrive by land and the other half by sea, in a united effort with the help of the Oyster Recovery Partnership’s Work Crew to empty two tanks of shell bags, slinging oyster muck at one another in the process. Within minutes of the first bags are being lifted out of the tanks, and passed along an assembly line of people to their temporary home of wooden pallets, the mud starts accumulating on the volunteers’ gloves and more!  IMG_3292

 Before you know it, the group has broken a sweat and volunteers have fallen into a rhythm of passing shell bags from the tank onto the pallets; which engages a friendly competition between the two tanks. The mission is to see who can (light-hearted friendly competition) empty a tank of approximately 600 ‘spat’-on-shell bags first.

1200 ‘spat’-on-shells bags later, divided into 24 pallets of 50 bags a piece, the mission is complete. The towering pallets are transported by bobcat down to the docks. Using the crane on the deck of RV Patricia Campbell  all 24 pallets are lifted and stacked aboard her deck, soon to make their way back across the Bay to Mill Creek and Harness Creek (CBF’s oyster nursery locations). 

Part two of the journey is about to begin, but not before Stephanie Tobash Alexander, Oyster Hatchery Manager at HPL,  is kind enough to give CBF staff and volunteers a tour of the hatchery. During the tour we are guided through the lab where oysters are spawned and larvae is collected.   Each year the hatchery produces oyster larvae from May until late August/ early September; batches of several million larvae are sent throughout the state for restoration and commercial use.  Prior to leaving the lab every batch of larvae is reared in tanks. During their larval stage which lasts 10-14 days computers and scientists monitor their health and growth. The tanks are periodically drained and the larvae are sorted by size. IMG_3347

The hatchery continually cultures 4 different strains of algae to feed the larval oysters. With the integration of technology all the larvae batches can be fed unique blends of algae every several hours, even during weekends and holidays when staff isn’t present. This unique system allows the larvae to be constantly fed ever several hours dramatically reducing their stress. Healthyand “happy” batches of larvae have higher setting efficiencies (higher ‘spat’ counts per parent shell) than batches which experience stress during their growth (lack of food, changes in water temperature or salinity).  All the larvae used at CBF’s Oyster Restoration Center in Shady Side, Maryland for our spat on shell and spat on reef ball projects come from HPL.

After the tour, CBF and some volunteers, make the trip back across the Bay to deposit the spat bags into two different rivers. This is the second part of the day. The RV PatriciaCampbell’s first stop was at Greenbury Point in Mill Creek. This is the nursery location of MD’s Oyster Gardening program. IMG_3371
The oyster ‘spat’ will continue to grow and thrive here while they wait to be handed out at upcoming events this fall.  The second stop is Harness Creek in the South River to deposit 150 spat bags in partnership with South River Federation’s Flood Bucket Program. A founding member and current board member of the South RiverFederation, JohnFlood devised a system of growing young spat in 5 gallon paint buckets suspended underwater with numerous holes drilled to provide flush and exchange of nutrients.

After a long, fun and messy day, the trip finally ends back at the Oyster Restoration Center in Shady Side. This annual trip is a great way for volunteers to be involved with oyster restoration; to hear more about theMD Oyster Gardening Program and continued restoration efforts in Maryland and Virginia as a whole. If you want to get involved in CBF’s MD Oyster Gardening Program, please register to attend one of our workshops this fall and fall in love with oysters and vibrant life that call their reefs home.  

To learn more about our oyster restoration efforts, visit our website.

To sign up to attend a fall oyster gardening workshop vist our MD Oyster Gardening website.


 (Photo One:CBF's MD Oyster Team & Volunteers at Horn Point Pre Oyster Muck. Photo Two:Staff and Volunteers Passing Spat On Shell Bags From Tank To Pallet. Photo Three: Volunteer Llyod Lewis on Deck PC With 2400 Bags Of Spat On Shell. Photo Four: Stephanie Tobash Alexander Explaining How HPL Hatchery Operates. Photo Five: Sterile Algae Cultures Which Feed The Oyster Larvae At HPL Hatchery. Photo Six: Unloading Pallets At Mill Creek Oyster Nursery. (Photo exception taken by  Nikki Smith/CBF Volunteer) Photo Seven: CBF's MD Oyster Team & Volunteers at Horn Point Post Oyster Muck. All Photos by Meghan Hoffman/CBF Staff.

-- Meghan Hoffman with contribution from Carmera Thomas

Mid Season Maryland Oyster Update

17,696,892 'spat' produced at CBF's Oyster Restoration Center (ORC) in Shady Side, MD as of July 26th, 2012, WOW!


2012 is turning out to be a banner year for spat production at MD's ORC. Typically this center produces 15 -20 million spat on shell for the season. At this pace by season’s end, on September 1st we should break the 20 million mark, and then some.

Some  reasons for this years success:

  1. Less rain - less run off - lower bacteria counts causing oyster larvae to die
  2. Higher quality larvae – every year UMD's Horn Point Labratory (HPL) produces higher quality oyster larvae.
  3. MD's ORC – improving our methods and quality control.

05-16-12 3Photo: Oyster shell with 'spat' (baby oysters) approximatly 2-3 weeks old . Photo by Meghan Hoffman/CBF Staff.

To learn more about our oyster restoration efforts, visit our website.


-- Karl Willey with contribution from Meghan Hoffman