The Marylanders Grow Oysters Program started off the 2014-2015 year this past Saturday with more than thirty volunteers filling 600 oyster cages with five tons of spat-on-shell (500,000 baby oysters) grown here at the College Waterfront in the blue nursery tank that we fondly call the “Oyster Jacuzzi.”

First – we couldn’t have done it without you! St. Mary’s River Watershed Association (SMRWA) is grateful to the incoming college students and community members who helped Saturday morning, and to the 100 dock owners who picked up cages and will care for the oysters for the next ten months.

Henry Ford would have been proud of the assembly-line as volunteers grabbed the empty cages, filled them, and put them on wagons to be hauled to curbside as local dock owners picked up an average of six cages each. [VIEW VIDEO] After two hours of hard labor, the volunteers were wet, dirty, and encouraged from the experience as they learned about stewardship from Bob Lewis, Executive Director here at SMRWA. Bob questioned the volunteers on our Bay’s natural filtering system, made sure they understood the cleansing power of oysters, and that the second most important cleansing system in our Bay – wetlands – were very much endangered by sea level rise.

Approximately 100 dock owners work with us in the Marylanders Grow Oysters Program. There is no charge to be part of this opportunity and adventure. There are about 340 docks in the St. Mary’s River – so that means there is room for growth. We are hoping that if you are one of the current volunteers in the program, you will talk to your neighbors and make sure they join you growing oysters to help cleanse the river.

Throughout the year, participates in the program will be reminded via email to dunk, roll, and bang the cages at their docks to make sure the oysters don’t become too attached to the cage and to keep growth from fouling the cages. This is done every two weeks or so.