Did you know that one oyster filters up to 50 gallons of water each day? In 2016, join Orvis and CBF in planting 5 million oysters and 300 reef balls to complete a network of self-sustaining oyster reefs in the Lafayette River.
It’s that sulfur-rich smell of the marsh, the grainy texture of the mud, and the almond-tasting roots of the black needlerush. It’s the periwinkle snails climbing marsh grasses and the great egrets flying overhead, returning to their nests each evening before sunset. It’s the quiet murmur of a sole waterman’s boat crossing flat-calm water at sunrise. It’s wing beats and birdcalls and bald eagle sightings. It’s getting stranded at high tide, and exploring a wild, undiscovered landscapes at low tide. It’s the scream of the sika deer and the woo-hoo of the tundra swan. It’s pound nets and patent tongs and crab pots. It’s seven-layer cakes, soft-shell crabs, and corn pudding. It’s shucking your very first oyster, and picking crabmeat with Old Bay-covered fingers. It’s bagging your first duck and digging up your best arrowhead. It’s striped bass, Atlantic sturgeon, and perch. It’s skipjacks and tugboats. It’s your home, your watershed, or your place to escape.
Underwater it’s flat. But it didn’t used to be. It’s also polluted, losing habitat, getting warmer, and under stress. The Chesapeake Bay needs help—the bay needs its oyster reefs back.
In an uncontrolled harvesting frenzy during the turn of the 20th century, we managed to flatten the once three-dimensional oyster reefs of the Chesapeake Bay. In doing so, we destroyed a most valuable resource, wrecking habitat for a robust eco-system, and devastating the ideal growing conditions for the native oyster. And we broke our most effective filtration system.
“Oysters are the mid-Atlantic coral reefs,” Tommy Leggett explains. The retired commercial waterman turned oyster-farmer manages the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) Virginia Oyster Restoration Center while running a full-time aquaculture business. “Oysters are one of the most important species of the bay. We have got to take care of this resource.”
Like coral, oysters filter feed. In fact, 1 oyster filters up to 50 gallons of water each day. This means that before the 1880s, it took only three days for the oysters to filter the entire 19-trillion gallons of water in the Chesapeake Bay. Today, it takes the struggling oyster population over a year. This is a problem. Because the bay, now more than ever, needs filtering.Excess sediment, excess nutrients, and other pollutants serve as a major threat to the overall health of the bay. Oyster reefs and filter-feeding oysters improve the water quality, help us avoid devastating dead zones and fish kills, and serve as habitat for crabs, fish, and plants and other animals. As Bill Goldsborough, Director of Fisheries Program at CBF, states: “The oyster and oyster reef serve a key function in making the system work. They are the plumbing and the kidneys of the watershed.”
How can you help?
This part is simple: you donate, and we match. It’s one of the easiest ways to become a good steward of this vital resource.
Your donation will help plant 5 million oysters and 300 reef balls to reach a four-year goal of 25 million oysters and 600 reef balls in the Lafayette River. This network of self-sustaining oyster reefs clean the bay and provide a substrate for future generations of oysters in one of the bay’s most vital tributaries.
Did we mention that this project also helps enhance fish habitat? Oyster reefs are prime fishing grounds for rockfish, spot, croaker, perch, and many other species…just in case there are any anglers out there.
The Orvis Company is partnering with its customers to help Chesapeake Bay Foundation in its efforts to restore a healthy oyster population in the Chesapeake. Orvis will match every donation dollar for dollar up to $30,000 for a total contribution of $60,000.
To help, send your check to:
Chesapeake Bay Foundation,
c/o The Orvis Company
178 Conservation Way
Sunderland, VT 05250, or donate online.
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