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Chesapeake Beach Oyster Cultivation Society

To view the latest CBOCS Report, click here .

Happy Trails event October 3, 2015 4-6 PM

CBOCS is involved in a special event on Fishing Creek Trail on October 3. This event is for adults to learn more about the wonders of the trail. It will include history, paintings, the NBVFD trail rescue equipment and even some wine and beer tasting.

CBOCS is planning to have several demonstration stations and could use your help. Anyone who is interested in showing off our oysters at the oysterquarium or explaining water quality of the creek or interested in discussing the value of the mosquito repellent garden please contact John Bacon at or 410-286-3572.

For a printable copy of the event flyer, click here .    Thank you 

CBOCS Oyster Gardeners (September 17, 2015)

This year’s oysters have been put into MGO cages and are ready to pick up. They are located at the bulkhead next to the Fishing Creek Trail. They are hanging on ropes next to the pilings. Please pull up and select your cages. Please pick them up at your convenience in the next 3 weeks. 

When transporting them place a plastic tarp under the cages to protect your car/truck. The cages can be out of the water for an hour or so with no harm to the oysters. When placing them on your piers on the BAY do so between the pilings if possible. If you place them next to pilings the wave action will likely batter them pretty badly. For those placing them in still water that is not a problem. 

When you get your cages please send an email to John Bacon  with the number you have.  We will be collecting the cages in late May. 

Thank you for your continued support in the CBOCS effort to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

CBOCS 2015 Reef Ball Deployment at Old Rock off Chesapeake Beach (MD) -- click here 

CBOCS 2015 Annual Meeting Presentation (a review of prior accomplishments and a glimpse of 2015 activities)

Field Guide to the Flora of the Town of Chesapeake Beach, Maryland by Nancy Feuerle


UPDATE -- The first one has been found in an undisclosed location! The prize has been claimed, but everyone is encouraged to continue the hunt and notify us if found.

RED TURTLEHEADS are a “threatened species” in Maryland and other mid-Atlantic States. There are old records here in the Town showing that we had them in the past but no locations were given. It is believed to have grown on the west side of route 261. These beautiful flowers (see photo) are late bloomers usually in the late summer and are generally found in rich moist soil . 

If you find one “DO NOT PICK IT”. Remember they are on the environmental “threatened species” list. Contact Town Hall and leave a message for Nancy Feuerle. She will verify your find and make arrangements to award your prize.  Identifying a RED TURTLEHEAD may help keep this plant from extinction. 


The OYSTERQUARIUM is scheduled for completion by this weekend and will be located at the first rest stop on the Fishing Creek Railway Trail. Larry Ringgold (Turtlepoint Driftwood LLC) was responsible for the design and construction with help from Dennis Brown and the town maintenance staff. The graphics were coordinated between Bob Munro and TNT Graphics. The photos used on the CBOCS OYSTERQUARIUM were gathered from the CBOCS archives. This exciting new addition to the trail will be used to educate students and the general public about the value of oysters. The complete oyster cycle from larva to adult is displayed in this live interpretative tank. On a regular basis a CBOCS volunteer will be available to answer questions and help trail walkers interact with the oysters. A schedule will be posted here on the CBOCS portion of the Town's website. 

After 5 months of waiting CBOCS has received the permit to place the Oyster Reef balls in the Bay. They will be deployed on the Old Rock Reef on a calm day during the first week of April. Reef balls weigh 60 pounds each and need to be lowered a distance of 20 feet to the floor of the bay. If you want to get involved contact Bob Munro or Jay Berry.

CBOCS presentation at Herrington Harbor North Sailing Group last week was attended by 30 people. There was a positive and enthusiastic response to this outreach activity and members requested follow ups with several of their associated groups. I asked them to find our lost buoy when the ice clears from the harbor. They all laughed!

Smart board classes at CSM on line continue for Ron Draper, John Bacon and Amenda Brown. We are being dragged kicking and screaming into the digital high tech world. We would like a few students to get involved. 

March 24 brings the 30 + oyster garden coordinators from around the Bay to Chesapeake Beach for their annual meeting at the Northeast Community Center. During this time we will be showing off our trail and the education activities it offers. 

John Bacon: Chair, CBOCS Steering Committee

Contact CBOCS: .

For the latest developments -- click here

For the CBOCS Activities Calendar -- click here

Online presentations -- click here

In 2011, the Town of Chesapeake Beach partnered with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Marylanders Grow Oysters (MGO) program to provide a fun and collaborative opportunity for the citizens and businesses of Chesapeake Beach to help improve local water quality and their knowledge of the Bay ecosystem, while assisting with national, state and private efforts to restore the Chesapeake Bay through oysterChesapeake Beach Oyster Cultivation Society cultivation and oyster reef restoration. 

Following proven models developed by the Southern Maryland Oyster Cultivation Society (SMOCS), MGO and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Chesapeake Beach Oyster Cultivation Society (CBOCS) relies on citizen volunteers to grow oysters in cages from their piers and the town’s Railway Trail Boardwalk along Fishing Creek.  The cages protect the vulnerable baby oysters (spat) from larger predators until their shells have grown thick enough to keep them safe.  After growing for 9-10 months in the cages, the yearling oysters are released, or planted, on local reefs in designated oyster sanctuaries where they will continue to grow, reproduce and help sustain wild oyster populations and help return balance to the Bay’s ecosystem.

Why are oysters (Crassostrea virginica) important?

  • Oysters clean the water through filter feeding.   A single adult oyster can filter 50 gallons of water per day removing phytoplankton, pollutants and microorganisms from the water.  This process reduces the likelihood of anoxic (oxygen depleted) zones in the Bay and results in greater water clarity, allowing light to reach important underwater plants. 








    A Buoyant Oyster Cultivation System cage (BOCS).  For a hands on view, stop by Town Hall to see one on display in the lobby...

  • Oysters provide food and shelter for hundreds of species.  Like a coral reef, an oyster reef provides a complex three-dimensional habitat that hundreds of estuarine species use, directly or indirectly, for food and shelter.  For example, gobies and skilletfish use oyster reefs as their primary habitat, while blue crabs and striped bass visit oyster reefs to breed, find food and/or hide from predators.

  • Oysters are good for the economy.   Until recent decades, oysters supported a thriving shellfish industry in the Bay region.  Steps being taken today to reduce water pollution, manage harvests, combat disease, restore wild populations, and encourage oyster aquaculture hold promise for an oyster renaissance.  

  • Oyster reefs attract some of the highest densities of fish of any type of habitat in the Bay, helping to sustain vibrant recreational fisheries.

How it is done:  Spat (baby oysters) and cages, delivered in late August or


A DNR Oyster cage

 September, are placed under Fishing Creek boardwalk, or under participant's private piers.  After growing for 9-10 months the yearling oysters are ready to be planted on local oyster reefs by CBOCS participants, and then the cycle begins anew. 

Time Commitment:  Approximately two half-days during summer, by all CBOCS participants, to: 1) help refill oyster gardens with new spat on shell, and 2) remove yearling oysters from cages and plant them on local reefs.  We'll also need help in early spring and late fall to help weatherize the BOCSes under the boardwalk.  There are other opportunities to help out as well throughout the year by serving on a CBOCS committee (See Committees link above.). 

General Schedule of Activities


Yearling oysters planted on local oyster reefs.


Spat on shell delivered.  Oyster cages refilled and deployed to boardwalk and private piers.


BOCSes winterized


BOCSes de-winterized

Who can participate?  CBOCS is a volunteer organization sponsored by the Town of Chesapeake Beach.  Everyone is welcome to participate, especially the residents, students and businesses of Chesapeake Beach.

 How can you help?  Register to participate!  Individuals, families, businesses and organizations can offer their time and/or agree to sponsor a BOCS to grow oysters.  You can grow oysters from your pier, using a self-cleaning Bouyant Oyster Cultivation System (BOCS) or a Marylanders Grow Oysters (MGO) cage, and help plant them in local oyster reefs.  Don’t have a pier or water access?  That’s okay.  The town will provide growing space below the Railway Trail boardwalk in Fishing Creek.

Types of Oyster Cages -- There are two types of cages that are used by CBOCS participants to grow oysters.  They are: 

  1. Buoyant Oyster Cultivation System (BOCS)

    •       Only BOCS may be used along Fishing Creek boardwalk.

    •         May be used along private piers as well.

    •         Not suitable for open Bay piers due to wave action.

    •       Cost: $500, plus $30 tax. The $500 is eligible for full tax credit on Maryland taxes. After the tax credit the real cost to you is $30.  MD tax credit form

    •       The Town is also exploring grant options to purchase BOCS cages.

    •       Must be weatherized twice per year (late fall and early spring; ~20 min/unit/occasion) 

  2. MGO oyster cage (rectangular, 12”x12”x18”) 

  •      Suitable for use on private piers, not on Fishing Creek boardwalk

  •      Suitable for open waters, such as Bay piers.

  •      Cages must be manually shaken once per week to remove silt from spat. 

  •      Cost: free

Local CBOCS Sponsors -- The following local businesses, schools and associations have generously sponsored the purchase of Buoyant Oyster Cultivation Devices (BOCSes) for use in the program:

American Legion Post #206

Beach Elementary School

Celebrate! LLC

Richfield Station Homeowners Association

Rod-N-Reel Restaurant  

The Bay Business Group
           Chesapeake Beach Garden Club
           Chesapeake Station Homeowners Association


In addition, CBOCS secured a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust for the purchase of four BOCSes.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are spat?  Spat is a life stage of the oyster during which they transition from mobile larva to “fixed” organisms attached to hard surfaces where they continue to grow into mature oysters.

Where are the spat grown?  The spat are grown in cages for 9-10 months from your pier, or below the Railroad Trail boardwalk in Fishing Creek if you do not have a pier.

 Where are yearling oysters released?  The yearling oysters will be released in designated oyster sanctuaries under the guidance of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR).  A suitable planting site has already been identified in the Bay just offshore from Chesapeake Beach; the location is known as Old Rock.  CBOCS is also exploring Fishing Creek planting options.  However, oysters must be planted on a hard substrate or their likelihood of survival is very small.  So given Fishing Creek’s muddy bottom, it is unclear at this time if a suitable solution will be found to allow oysters to be planted there.

Do I need to purchase a BOCS, or have a pier to participate?  No.  There are a variety of ways to participate in CBOCS without purchasing a BOCS or having a pier.  Primarily we need people willing to donate their time and energy to help maintain the program.  For example, we need your help receiving and deploying spat in the fall, planting yearling oysters in the spring, weatherizing BOCSes annually, or there are a variety of committees to help out with as well.

 Are there any schools involved in CBOCS?  Yes.  Beach Elementary School is an active partner in CBOCS and is currently incorporating aspects of oyster restoration into their environmental curriculum for fifth graders.

For more information on oyster gardening and restoration, visit these sites:
Southern Maryland Oyster Cultivation Society (SMOCS):
DNR’s Marylanders Grow Oysters (MGO):
Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF):
Marylanders Grow Oysters -- oyster care flier

Contact CBOCS:

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