York oyster shells recycled to preserve Chesapeake
If you go
What: York County Heritage Trust's 41st annual Oyster Festival
When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday
Where: Agricultural & Industrial Museum, 217 W. Princess St., York
Cost: Admission is free, food is a la carte
Find more details here.
Recycling paper, plastic and glass is a relatively common practice. Did you know locals are also recycling animal shells?
The Coastal Conservation Association of Maryland, based in Baltimore, does just that, using discarded oyster shells to grow new oysters and create a three-dimensional reef system that will support all types of marine life, according to Rick Elyar, central region chapter president of the Coastal Conservation Association.
While recycled oysters are typically seeded with spat, or baby oyster larvae, and spread flat across the bottom of the bay, Elyar detailed a more successful reef system built out of a 3-D structure.
It makes habitat for bait and other fish species while getting the reef off the silty bottom and into a cleaner water column with better currents sweeping through the structure, Elyar said.
"The vertical, 3-D structure produces oyster larvae that will float around and find their way to other shells and structures to attach themselves to, beginning their life cycle, growing from larvae to spat, to adult oysters," Elyar explained
Oysters, before they were mass-harvested, filtered all of the Chesapeake Bay's waters in a day or two, Elyar said. It now takes more than a year for that water to filter, he said.
Oysters, by the numbers:
1 to 2
Days it took to filter all the water in the Chesapeake Bay in the early 1900s, when the oyster population was at its highest
Percent of the Chesapeake Bay's oyster population, according to a University of Maryland study
Days it takes to filter that water since frequent oyster harvesting began
Gallons of water one oyster is capable of filtering in a day
Maryland restaurants from which the CCA collects oyster shells
Tax credit per bushel the state of Maryland offers in-state restaurants that recycle oyster shells
The association's central region campaign, by the numbers, as of Oct. 8:
Bushels of shells collected
Shells among those bushels
Pounds of discarded oyster shells in the bushels
New oysters planted in the Chesapeake Bay next year
Bushels of oyster shells the CCA hopes to collect this year
Amount of oysters each shell will grow, once seeded
Shells anticipated to be collected during the York Heritage Trust's Oyster Festival
New oysters back into the Chesapeake Bay as part of Coastal Conservation Association of Maryland's oyster recovery efforts
Fore more information:
Learn more about CCA on a national level at www.joincca.org . The organization covers 19 states with more than 100,000 members of recreational anglers and conservation-minded outdoor enthusiasts.