April 14, 2024
Watch an oyster reef in action at low tide along Pleasure House Creek.

By Mary Reid Barrow

Photos by Brent James, Steve Daniel and Emily Willis

On a beautiful low tide afternoon recently, oysters up and down the brand new Pleasure House Creek Reef could be seen poking above the water.

Photographer Steve Daniel was lucky enough on a day like that to see an oyster in action, filter feeding and helping to keep the Lynnhaven River water clean and free of pollution.

As remarkable as filter feeding is, however, there is ever so much more going on around this flourishing, new reef in town.

For one, it is becoming a home for some of newest generations of oysters that always have lived in the Lynnhaven River. Right off the trail around Pleasure House Point, natural oysters grow along the shoreline where they have lived for ages. As these oysters breed and multiply, their little spat go off in the world, often  to grow up on the new reef just a little farther offshore!

That one-mile long reef, made of crushed concrete, was built just two years ago by LRNow and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation with a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, but you’d hardly know it was a reef that young.

A CBF survey taken a year ago found 14 million oysters on the new reef, Brent James, LRNow’s Oyster Restoration Coordinator, said. You could expect that 18 to 20 million oysters would be on the reef by now, he added, and that number will probably grow to 25 million by the end of breeding season this summer!

Brent took this photo of an oyster, covered in baby spat, that he picked up off the reef.

The oyster population is not only growing by leaps and bounds but so is the population of many other critters attracted to the nooks and crannies of an oyster reef.

“The habitat created by this reef is supporting an explosion of life,” Brent said.

That day a kingfisher was poised on a post ready to snatch little fish feeding on worms and other critters living among the oyster shells. A yellow-crowned night heron was slowly walking around the reef edges looking for dinner too.

Whether from a bird’s eye view or our human viewpoint as we walked along the Pleasure House Point trail, it was obvious we were all in the presence of something special.

In essence, the whole ecosystem that is bringing the Lynnhaven River back to its glory days when it was productive and clean was in action right before our eyes!

Oysters on sanctuary reefs, such as this one, created around the river in the last 20 years, are largely responsible for the river’s resurgence and they are why oystermen are once again able to harvest our famed Lynnhaven oysters.

If there is any debate in your mind about attending LRNow’s upcoming oyster roast, take a walk along the Pleasure House Point trail at low tide and see for yourself.

You will be convinced of the importance your contribution will make to this ecosystem that is creating a river that is both safe for our children and our delicious oysters.

Sign up here for the Oyster Roast:



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