21,000 years or so ago, the last Ice Age reached its maximum. The Susquehanna River was flowing toward the meteorite impact crater and bearing glacial till. Cutting across the Delmarva Peninsula and running 70 miles down over the continental shelf, it also created the Baltimore and Norfolk Canyons into the edge of the shelf. Then the Earth began getting warmer and the sea level rose 100 meters over the next 12,000 years as continental glaciers receded.
About that time, the Susquehanna River Valley began being drowned by the rising waters, ultimately rising another 40 meters in the last 8k-9k years, with there being a new breakout for the Bay between Cape Charles and Cape Henry about 4,500 years ago.
With this rapidly rising marine water into newly inundated land came the oyster and its reef habitat. Capt. John Smith recorded 200,000 acres of oyster “rock” in the Bay, along with visibility down to 30’ through the clear water. Shallow water and intertidal reefs lined the shoreline, breaking wave energy such that marsh grasses thrived, building deep root structures, sometimes many feet thick, that gripped the soil to the shoreline.
No chicken or egg dilemma here. Oysters could outgrow sea level rise. Aggressive erosion started after the removal of the oyster reefs, not the other way around. Current erosion rates and land subsidence are such that the oyster, with no base of vertical, sanctuary reef habitat, cannot catch up. We see young mussels and oysters stuck in the face of marsh base, only to be eroded out before they can armor the shoreline as in their history. On the bottom, they are smothered to death by sediment.
So, this is what ReadyReef does, we jump start the oyster’s traditional shoreline niche by giving them a stable, chemically attractive (shell coated!) habitat.
Is this innovative? Maybe in Virginia, but many other states are also pursuing oyster reefs as erosion control. After all, they have the same species of oyster, Crassostrea virginica, to work with.
How many Stats or Pictures do you need to prove these statements? ReadyReef has installed thousands of reefs over the past 5 years (434 1’ reefs and 403 2’ reefs in 2016 alone). They have been quietly growing and filling their ecologic shoreline niche.
Going nowhere in NE gales, holding their own and recruiting new generations every summer, this species just needs the chance.
Life finds a way: Oysters reaching up in the water column and intertidal zone.
And what does successful oyster habitat mean? It means we can move everything forward in the Bay. Example: instead of arguing about how many menhaden should be captured today, we could be growing more habitat for all interested parties: commercial watermen, recreational fishermen, rockfish, bluefish, trout, etc.
Want 6% more fish, expand habitat by 6%, and compound these gains year over year. Then, this decision makes sense.
Since Mankind has proven it can manipulate species out in the wild, then we can also fix what we have broken and limited. It is a matter of willpower. Grow it mostly back, and then sustain it. This is a successful economic and moral model we can accomplish.
Call us if you want to Plug and Play into the grand scheme of the restorative work of the Chesapeake Bay. We make it easy and even fun!