Operation Build a Reef: Severn River



Oysters and water run through the side of the Build a Reef planting vessel on Friday, August 20, 2021Build a Reef 2021: Mission Accomplished!

Operation Build a Reef: Severn River 2021 is a resounding success! On Friday, August 20, nearly 24 million juvenile oysters found their new home on the Traces Hollow reef on the north side of the Route 50 bridge in Annapolis, MD. The campaign exceeded its fundraising goal of $30,000, earning more than $38,000 in public support! Build a Reef was funded solely through grassroots donations from individuals, families, and businesses like title sponsor Smyth Jewelers, as well as the M&T Bank Charitable Foundation, and the Delaplaine Foundation, Inc. The program was made possible by Horn Point Laboratory, who diligently worked to spawn oysters, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources who provided in-kind support, and the Severn River Association who educated and engaged the local community. Learn more…

Help Build an Oyster Reef in the Severn River!

We are drawn to its shorelines. We find enjoyment in boating, fishing, and exploring its waters. We are homeowners, business owners, and citizen leaders who rely on the opportunities and sense of community it provides. We depend on the Severn River – and the Severn need our help.This summmer, with your support and the generosity of the surrounding community, let’s plant 20 million water-filtering oysters in the Severn.

This year, the grassroots reef building effort is benefitting from the support of Title Sponsor, Smyth Jewlers, who is feeling the love by planting 1,000 oysters for every engagement ring sold from May 18 – September 30! And thanks to a $10,000 match generated from Bay Paddle fundraising, your contribution, regardless of size, will plant twice the amount of oysters in Annapolis’ most iconic waterway!

Every donation to Operation Build-a-Reef directly supports the production, transport, and planting of juvenile oysters in the river. To help reach the 20-million oyster goal, please consider purchasing a bushel of spat-on-shell for $100. Each bushel contains thousands of oysters! 




The Severn watershed drains a large, densely-populated area. As a result, our communities experience erosion, degraded water quality, the decline of marine life, and other issues. Anne Arundel County is working hard on land-based clean-up efforts. Your Operation Build-a-Reef donation enables the planting of water-filtering oysters to help repair the river from within.




Three spat - or baby oysters - growing on oyster shellOperation Build a Reef expands upon significant progress made during the summers of:

  • 2020 when 16.9 million spat-on-shell found their new homes on reefs near Weems Creek
  • 2018 when over 45.1 million oysters were planted on protected oyster sanctuaries between the Severn River and Naval Academy Bridges. Despite 2018’s record rainfall, monitoring shows that sampled spat are surviving and growing!


As friends and neighbors, businesses and community organizations, let’s do more than imagine a healthier Severn River… let’s make it happen!

Donate by credit card through the form below. If you prefer to send a check, please mail to Oyster Recovery Partnership, 1805A Virginia St., Annapolis, MD 21401 and note “Build-a-Reef Severn River.”

Build-A-Reef is a collaborative partnership between the Severn River Association and ORP, both 501c(3) nonprofits. Donations are fully tax-deductible.