At a press conference in May the Oyster Recovery Partnership shared a message of hope after record rainfall diluted salinity in the Chesapeake Bay — the baby oysters planted in the Severn in 2018 had survived the freshwater deluge.I tasted the Bay yesterday, and the salinity is coming up (I have pretty well calibrated tongue from years of experience). The bad news is that I saw sea nettles for the first time in two years.
Together with the Severn River Association they planned on planting 10 million more spat on shell in the Severn this year through their second Build-a-Reef campaign. But the effects of the freshwater intrusion can still be felt, particularly at Horn Point Laboratory in Cambridge, where conditions have hindered the hatchery’s ability to produce spat for the project, according to the partnership.
“It became clear about a week ago that the larvae were simply not going to be available for this project,” the partnership’s Director of Partnerships Paul Schurrick said.
In a letter to donors, Schurrick said the money will go toward the 2020 Build-a-Reef campaign, set aside in a dedicated fund. Their goal was to raise $50,000 for the 10 million oysters. Schurrick declined to say how much was raised.
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The partnership was contracted by the state to plant 40 million oysters on three reefs covering an area of 11 acres in the Severn in July and August of 2018. Teaming up with the Severn River Association they planted an additional 5 million.
Absent state assistance this year, the groups doubled their efforts to raise money to contribute to the reef, hoping to raise enough to plant 10 million oysters.
Two independent monitoring efforts have shown that the oysters planted last year are still alive. “There are a lot of oysters on these reefs in the Severn still thriving,” he said.
In May, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources reported that salinities in the bay are still below average because of the 2018 rainfall and an above-average amount of rain in March.