Significant Progress for Chesapeake Bay Oyster Reef Restoration—Yes, Even in 2020


Despite challenges due to the pandemic, NOAA and partners continue restoration efforts in Maryland and Virginia.

NOAA and partners working together on oyster restoration in the Chesapeake Bay are striving toward a challenging, but possible, goal. They plan to restore oyster reefs in 10 Chesapeake rivers by 2025.

In 2020, the pandemic and protocols put in place to keep NOAA and partner scientists and experts safe as they worked threatened to delay progress. But despite some initial setbacks, the team conducted work when safe and possible. And that led to some big achievements!

In the Little Choptank River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, restoration work was completed in late summer. Nearly 88 million oyster “seed”—juvenile oysters—were planted in the river last year, bringing the total in the Little Choptank to 1.78 billion. And restoration work on almost 7 acres wrapped up, driving the project through the finish line. The Little Choptank River is now home to roughly 358 acres of restored reefs—larger than the National Mall in Washington, D.C. That tops the size of the previous world record largest oyster restoration project the team set in Harris Creek (348 acres).

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Image via NOAA Fisheries