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How is the Sanctuary Reef Doing?

Enquiring minds want to know. Yet, the question isn't easy to answer. We have done bottom samples along the reef and can tell that the top layer has live oysters and seems healthy. Still, it is hard to understand how the reef is growing and how tall the oyster part of the reef has grown. Eventually, we will need a research scuba diver to survey the reef in the winter when the water is clear.

In the meantime, we are fortunate that Nautical Solutions International Inc (NSI Inc.) is our neighbor across the parking lot from the Federation. They own a side sonar and the charting software necessary to represent the reef as a 3D model. Their company not only helps survey for living shorelines and waterways that need to be dredged, but they also help chart new island topography in Hawaii (which is changing due to lava flow) and have helped identify shipwrecks. They even helped with an FBI murder investigation!

We hired NSI Inc. (thanks for the neighborly rate!)  to survey the reef and the shoreline along Turnbull Estates where we are installing a living shoreline and hope to include oyster reef balls. We needed a very detailed survey of the shallows along the shoreline to figure out if the oyster reef balls needed to be installed from a boat or from the shore.

Glebe MGO Drop Off Site

The above image shows a 3 dimension rendering of the NOAA chart of the the South River Oyster Sanctuary Reef where our 80 Marylanders Grows Oysters (MGO) drop off the oysters they care for during their first year of life. The reef was placed on a sand bar island in 2 feet of water. Substrate was put down to keep the oysters from sinking into the bottom and suffocating.

Francesca King is the newest addition to the South River Federation. As our new Office Administrator and Program Assistant, she is excited to bring her passion and skills to the Federation.


Francesca grew up on the South River, playing and swimming on its shores in Hillsmere. She left the water for the mountains when she went to college in North Carolina at Appalachian State University. Throughout college, she spent her summers back in Annapolis working with the Box of Rain Foundation and as Zulu the pirate aboard the Sea Gypsy

Everyone loves to see oyster restoration in the South River, millions of spat on shell being poured into the river is a beloved sight -- but where does this process start?

Believe it or not, in a way, this fascinating process starts with YOU! When you go to a restaurant or eat oysters at home, you can make sure leftover shell gets recycled for use in oyster restoration projects. Find resturants that recycle their shell and public shell drop offs here. Once these shells have been collected (usually by our larger partners, like the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Oyster Recovery Partnership) they are aged for at least a year. The aged shell then goes through a process called "shaking" to remove large debris (dirt, decaying lemon juice and cocktail sauce, etc.). They are cleaned once more before being placed in large setting tanks, at which point they are ready for some oyster larvae!

On Tuesday, October 17th the Federation hosted its Annual Fall Community Meeting at the Historic London Town and Gardens. Riverkeeper Jesse Iliff presented on how the Monitoring, Advocacy and Restoration programs have worked together to help the Church Creek Initiative come full circle, as it closes with its last major Stream Restorations at Bywater and Allen Apartments.

Then, three different roundtable disscussions were held that delved deeper into the Monitoring, Advocacy and Restoration programs. Environmental Scientist Sarah Girondano led a monitoring roundtable which discussed a Research Restoration Grant the Federation received that will help monitor the water quality of Church Creek and determine the effectiveness of multiple Best Management Pratices (BMPs) in a sub-watershed. Riverkeeper Jesse Iliff lead a advocacy roundtable discussion that talked about multiple topics ranging from a Water Reporter App to his Anne Arundel County Enfocement Report. Director of Grants and Operations Jennifer Carr lead a restoration roundtable that discussed the multi-year process of design, permitting and construction as well as what restoration projects the Federation has in the pipeline. For notes from these roundtable discussions, see below. 

September 20, 2017, Fairfax Virginia. South River Federation is excited to announce it has been selected as an exemplary non-profit and will receive free marketing and promotional support from the award-winning marketing and design firm, Red Thinking.

For the past five years, Red Thinking has held a 24 hour design marathon where its creative staff and collaborative partners pour their hearts into helping area non-profits. It’s a project called Brand Jam.

“We’re excited to be part of this year’s Brand Jam,” says Nancy Merrill of South River Federation. “Red Thinking has deep non-profit experience and the Brand Jam team will be helping us with marketing and communication. This is worth thousands of dollars and hours. It’s money and time we can put into our core mission and projects.”