Oyster Education
Teaching the future generation
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Athey Reef
Lynnhaven Inlet
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Oyster Castle Reef
Broad Bay Island
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Oyster Restoration

Restoring our Lynnhaven River native oyster population has been an important part of our restoration efforts from the beginning of our organization. Surveys have identified approximately 92 acres of baseline restored oyster reef in the Lynnhaven River including Broad Bay, Linkhorn Bay, the Inlet and the Eastern and Western Branches. About 56 acres is subtidal restored reef constructed over the past fifteen years and the remaining 36 acres are constructed over natural shoreline or intertidal reef. The goal is 152 acres of restored oyster reef. This has been determined to be the acreage needed to sus-tain a healthy oyster population in the Lynnhaven. Working with our federal, state, and local government partners – along with our educational and nonprofit partners – we are making steady progress toward reaching our goal.

Recent and upcoming oyster restoration projects: 

  • Laila Oyster Castle Reef on Broad Bay Island
    The Laila reef lines the northwest shoreline of Broad Bay Island nd is both our first and our largest oyster castle project. It protects the narrow undeveloped point of Broad Bay Island from erosion and provides habitat for an amazing array of oysters, sponges and other marine critters in Long Creek. The reef was built in three phases starting in spring 2012 and ending in spring 2014. One of our hopes was that we would see the accretion of sand and the spread of marsh grasses behind the castles as the waves were calmer and the shoreline stablized. We are very happy to say that has happened faster than we expected. Where oysters thrive, so do our marsh grasses.
    The Laila reef is named after our friend Laila Serpe, daughter of Richard and Linda Serpe, who was taken from this world much too soon. Many of her Cape Henry Collegiate School classmates have volunteered to help with construction and maintenance of the Laila reef over the years.
  • Eastern Branch Reef constructed in Spring 2017
    In spring 2017, 19,000 bushels of oyster shells from our shell collection program were used to build the Community Reef in the Eastern Branch of the Lynnhaven. This was our first sanctuary reef in the Eastern Branch. The settlement of oysters on this reef has surpassed all expectations and their growth rate has been tremendous. After only eighteen months, our tonging survey brought up one to two inch oysters in healthy clusters. Oysters this size were found on all areas of the reef. We can’t wait to go out next fall and see how large and plentiful they have become.
    • Eastern and Western Branch Reefs planned for Spring 2020
    The plans have been made, the grant funds obtained and
    the partners are all in place to build at least twelve acres of restored reef at various locations in the Western Branch of the Lynnhaven in spring 2020. The Witchduck reef locations will be the first subtidal reef work in the Western Branch of the Lynnhaven. We hope to see results that match the tremendous growth we have seen in the Eastern Branch. Working with the same grant funds and partners, we will build an additional acre of sanctuary shell reef in the Eastern Branch of the Lynnhav-en River in spring 2020 also. This reef will add to our previ-ous sanctuary reef project undertaken in the spring of 2017. This new reef will be named in honor of City of Virginia Beach employee Mary Louise Gayle as a living memorial. Ms. Gayle had worked closely with us to have the reef’s lease location successfully transferred from the City for restoration purposes.

All of these oysters are helping to clean the water and provide habitat not only for baby oysters to attach and grow, but for sponges, worms, crabs, and juvenile fish to shelter and grow. Each reef becomes an ecosystem supporting a healthy marine environment.

One adult oyster can filet 50 gallons of water per day. Look what these amazing oysters can do over the course of 1 hour!



PEARL HOMES are places where people care about our environment and want to do what they can to help protect our resources.

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Lynnhaven River NOW recognizes schools providing outstanding environmental education as a Pearl School.

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PEARL BUSINESSES are essential to truly move towards a more sustainable Virginia Beach and cleaner waters.

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We all want to do our part to restore the health of all of our sacred waterways and protect them for future generations to enjoy.

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SUSTAINABLE YARDS PROGRAM: Let us help you “green” your Lynnhaven watershed home. This unique program provides specific stormwater management practices to your yard at a significantly reduced cost to you.

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