Oyster Reef Monitoring

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One of ORP’s main goals is to continue to improve upon oyster restoration techniques using applied science. Over the past decade, ORP and its partners have increased their capacity to restore oyster reefs to a point where we can now restore hundreds of acres on an annual basis. Coupled with our ongoing intensive monitoring activities, we constantly adapt our planting strategies to increase production and planting efficiencies and oyster survival.

The program consists of three core components: Pre-site assessment to identify optimal planting habitat; assessing spat survivorship; and evaluating the long-term performance of planted reefs.

In 2016, ORP and partners identified optimal bottom habitats for restoration in the Little Choptank and Tred Avon rivers, and monitored spat survivorship on more than 150 acres of restored oyster reefs. Monitoring strategies were developed to assess the long-term performance of oysters, and the results of the first assessment show that the densities of oysters on three-year-old reefs are at levels last seen 50 years ago.