Once sold for use in fertilizer, chicken feed, and road construction, empty oyster shells are now a
coveted resource for oyster restoration.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
ow CBF’s oyster restoration crew would love to have a pile of oyster shells like this. In the early 1900s, these
sometimes six-story-high oyster mountains were a common site at Chesapeake Bay oyster-packing plants.
Because the packers could get income from both the meat and the shells, many of the shells were sold. And,
Today, oyster shells are a hot commodity in the efforts to rebuild the Bay’s oyster population. CBF is part of an initiative led by the Oyster Recovery Partnership to recycle shells for restoration. Once recycled shells are cleaned and
cured, the partners place them in huge water tanks containing millions of microscopic oyster larvae from the
University of Maryland Center for the Environmental and Estuarine Studies’ Horn Point Laboratory, which then
attach to the shells. Each recycled shell can become home to several baby oysters, called spat. The “spat on shell”
are then planted in rivers and the Bay to grow and expand oyster reefs. Because we don’t have enough shell, other
substrates—concrete reef balls and granite rock—must also be used. Help us by participating in CBF’s Save Oyster
Shell program. Visit cbf.org/SOS.