about south river federation

All About Oysters!

South River Federation recognizes that restoring the South River (and the Bay) is contingent on restoring the native Eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, a keystone species that provides critical ecological benefits to the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers and creeks!
The Chesapeake Bay's native oyster population has been estimated at less than 1% of historic levels, making restoration critical to help improve the Bay's water quality and increase its economic viability. Oysters are filter feeders and extract access nutrients and suspended sediments and clean the water and support a healthy ecosystem. A single oyster can filter 50 gallons of water a day!

Diseases (parasites MSX and Dermo) are a significant factor in the demise of the oyster but historic overharvesting, poor water quality due to influx in nutrients and sediment runoff also play a role in the decline in oyster population.
South River Federation is collaborating with Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) and other organizations in the recently announced "10 Billion New Bay Oysters by 2025" Campaign and is committed to working together to accelerate oyster restoration efforts. This multiple year partnership will produce 1 billion spat annually in Maryland and Virginia waters that represents a 15-20 % increase in production. The Federation is the leader in oyster recovery efforts in the South River.

In support of re-establishing these bivalve mollusks, CBF established its Maryland Oyster Restoration Center (ORC) in 2002. The ORC houses several large tanks for use in producing juvenile oysters, called 'spat.' It is also home to CBF's restoration vessel Patricia Campbell. The 60-foot boat transports and places hatchery-produced seed oysters onto sanctuary reefs throughout Maryland waters and carries oyster shell and other materials for reef construction. The ORC serves as the central location for all of CBF's oyster restoration activities in Maryland.
ORC houses several large tanks for use in producing juvenile oysters, called 'spat.' These setting tanks are loaded with oyster shell, and then filled with Bay water. Oyster larvae, usually produced by the University of Maryland's Horn Point Laboratory, are then released into the tanks. After a few days, these larvae attach, or 'set,' onto the old oyster shells, at which point they are called 'spat.' CBF produces millions of spat at ORC each year, and with the help of South River Federation and other watershed organizations, transplant them onto restored sanctuary reefs.The Federation's goals is to put one million spat into the South River in 2018.

Restoration Vessel Patricia Campbell

ORC is also the home port of the innovative oyster restoration vessel Patricia Campbell. With its state-of-the-art technology, it is the most advanced vessel in the Bay being used for oyster restoration. Using the Patricia Campbell, CBF staff builds reefs and plants them with juvenile oysters. Among the vessel's highlights is its custom conveyor belt system for planting reef material and oysters with pin-point accuracy. This helps the crew build oyster reefs to exact specifications. Learn more about the Patricia Campbell.

Oyster Gardening

South River Federation's Oyster Growing program allows citizens to grow oysters off their docks in cages over the winter. In 2017, The Federation coordinated approximately 75 growers, taking care of 400 cages of oysters. Gardeners raise the baby oysters from 'spat' to adult (about 7 months), and eventually plant them onto the South River's oyster sanctuary reef. Visit our website for more information and to find out how you can become a South River Oyster Grower.

oyster cages drawing