These installations are the product of the Great Baltimore Oyster Partnership, a collaboration between the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, local businesses and area schools.
It’s all part of a plan to restore the Inner Harbor—a vision that requires clean water, which is where oysters come in. Oysters are filter feeders, filtering the water to find food while simultaneously removing harmful excess nutrients from the water. A single oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day.
Unfortunately, today’s oyster population is estimated to be only 2 percent of its original level, so its purification power is significantly weaker than it once was. That’s why the Great Baltimore Oyster Partnership is working to replenish the oysters in an effort to clean up the water in the harbor.
The initiative designated five oyster garden zones around the Inner Harbor: two between the piers of the Inner Harbor, one next to the Rusty Scupper, one at the downtown sailing center and one around Fells Point. Each oyster garden consists of 15 cages, with each cage containing 400 to 500 baby oysters, also known as spat. In addition to filtering the water, these oyster reefs become microhabitats for native Chesapeake Bay creatures like fish, eels, mud crabs and grass shrimp.
Last month, we pulled one of the gardens from the harbor and explored its contents live on Facebook! You can watch it in full here.