Oysters Away
Jill Rennicke, Alumni Coordinator

Small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, a single oyster might seem an unlikely symbol for the resurrection of something as huge as the Chesapeake Bay but perhaps 10 billion of them would do the trick.

Conserve School four-year graduate Audrey Swanenberg is a part of an ambitious effort to seed Chesapeake Bay with 10 billion oysters by 2025, part of an effort to restore the immense watershed to at least a part of its former glory.

Chesapeake Bay is a 200-mile long estuary stretching from Maryland to Virginia, home to blue crabs, osprey, river otters, and over 3,000 resident and migratory wildlife species. Eighteen million people live and play in the “Bay” but the long, finger-like waterway also includes fifty major rivers, a 64,000-square mile watershed that runs through six states and includes farms, cities, industry, and small towns.

As the Chesapeake Oyster Alliance Manager, Audrey is the coordinator for a coalition of more than 50 organizations across the Chesapeake Bay watershed working towards an ambitious goal of adding 10 billion oysters to the Bay by 2025. The coalition works to increase restoration habitat in protected sanctuaries, expand the aquaculture (oyster farming) industry, and advocate for science-based management of its wild fishery. In one recent effort (depicted in this video) the group planted 2.8 million baby oysters (called spat) onto a sanctuary reef in the Little Choptank River in the Chesapeake Bay. 

According to the Alliance, “Chesapeake Bay's restoration has the potential to be the most dramatic example of environmental recovery ever seen. By every measure, the Bay is healthier than it was even five years ago. Now it is time to finish the job.” One oyster (or 10 billion) at a time.

For more information on the effort visit www.chesapeakeoysteralliance.org.

Chesapeake Bay
Chesapeake Bay

Photos submitted by Chesapeake Bay Foundation