News Along the Severn

September 2023

A beautiful fall evening sail on Back Creek

A hearty welcome to cooler weather after the scorching last weeks of heat. Let's hope it sticks around. We have a lot going on around here - photo contest winners, John Wright Speaker Series - so be sure to continue reading so you're in the know. We don't want anyone to miss out on the fun!

Executive Director's Corner

With summer winding down, we at SRA are returning our focus to the mighty eastern oyster. In the first week of this month, we submitted a grant proposal for the direct-setting of 13 million oyster larvae onto prepared river bottom in our sanctuary. If funded, the oysters would be planted a year from now, and their survival monitored by SCUBA divers in spring, 2025. On September 14 the SRA team visited the Horn Point Laboratory, a University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science facility in Cambridge, MD to learn more about the dynamics of oyster larvae before they “strike” and spend the rest of their lives in the same place. Depending on the survival rate of the oyster larvae, the direct-setting approach may significantly curtail the cost of oyster restoration in the river, accelerating the population’s recovery and reducing emissions from barges and trucks moving tons of shell around the Bay.

The 2023-2024 Marylanders Grow Oysters season kicks off this month, deploying spat-on-shell to over 1,500 oyster cages throughout the river, where the oysters can grow in relative safety for 9 months until their shells firm up and they take up residence in the sanctuary.

We are also resuming our monitoring of the health of our reefs. We’ve recruited some volunteers for our annual oyster dive survey at the beginning of October, when we assess the health of the reefs and the success of our restoration efforts. We will also use underwater videography as part of a project with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center to film the marine life calling the reefs home. 

Perhaps our revitalized attention to oysters is related to the old rule of thumb that oysters are best enjoyed after summer ends. (A tradition at least 4000 years old, a 2019 study suggests). As I write, I have my windows open to take in the breeze, and there is a delicious crisp in the air–almost as delicious as a plate of fresh oysters with a nice mignonette!

Jesse Iliff

Executive Director

Severn Sustainers

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Native Landscape Photo Contest Winners

1st Place

2nd Place

Honorable Mention

Congratulations to our winners! We asked some follow up questions about their techniques, favorite plants, and future plans. Read about it all by clicking below.

Winners Interviews

John Wright Speaker Series

When: Monday September 18th at 7pm

Where: Cafe Mezzanotte, Severna Park

Speaker: Cindy Palinkas

Topic: Living Shorelines: using the power of nature to protect our coasts

Mark your calendars for the next John Wright Speaker Series. More information to come. Enjoy dinner at Cafe Mezz at 6pm in the lounge, then join us in the back room for the presentation at 7pm.

Register HERE

Floating Classroom Wrap Up

Floating Classroom students during "class"

With the kids back in school SRA's Floating Classroom program is complete for this summer. We enjoyed 10 classroom sessions with our new partners the Annapolis Boys & Girls Club and the Annapolis Police Department's summer camp program, and look forward to strengthening those ties next year.

During the Classroom, middle schoolers learn the ins and outs of water quality monitoring, like measuring the clarity of the water with a Secchi Disk. They also study the the Severn River's aquatic habitat created within our underwater grass beds - home to schools of forage fish, young crabs and sea nettles, food for waterbirds and otters, protecting shorelines and oxygenating the water.

And, they can also enjoy time at the helm of SRA's scientific research vessel, Sea Girl.

Thanks to Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County for supporting the Floating Classroom program!

More Photos Here!

SRA In Action

Floating Classroom students learn are all smiles learning about oysters

SRA Executive Director Jesse at a speaking event

SRA Staff - Sarah, Grace and Tom - at a tour at Horn Point Laboratory.

Measuring clarity on a water quality monitoring tour

Our important work is only possible due to the generous support of people like you. If you are a current donor - THANK YOU! We welcome your support any time of the year. If you are not yet a member, please consider joining the movement today. Any size donation makes you a member.

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