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Chesapeake Beach Oyster Cultivation Society


Fishing Creek Fall Cleanup and Floral Sign Installations 
Saturday October 25 at 10 AM at the head of the trail

CBOCS members, families and friends are invited to the annual Fishing Creek Fall Cleanup.   This year we are adding the opportunity to help install the new floral signs along the trail. During the summer the Calvert Master Naturalists have been working with Nancy Feuerle to identify all the plants, shrubs and trees along Fishing Creek Trail. Sign posts have been made and now need to be installed by each specimen.  Bring some muscle and enthusiasm to help in these projects.   See you there!!!!

New Video by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation -- Reef Balls: Re-creating Chesapeake Bay Oyster Reefs -- click here

CBOCS Calendar - click here 

CBOCS Prior Announcements 2014 - click here 

CBOCS Special Projects - Volunteers Wanted - Carpenters (posted Oct. 6, 2014)

CBOCS is making 70 flora identification signs to put along the Fishing Creek Railway Trail.  Assembly of these signs onto posts takes (3) 2 inch bull headed deck screws. This requires power screw drivers. Next is to attach 50 graphics with (4) 1 inch stainless steel phillips head screws. Finally attach 30 hinges with (4) 1 inch phillips head screws. Two or three more carpenters are needed to help Mike Ron, David and Ed for an hour or so at the Chesapeake Village water tower shed on a Saturday morning October 11 at 10 AM. Contact John Bacon if available. 

Directions are south on 261 to Chesapeake Village. Chesapeake Village Boulevard to round-a-bout, turn right on Cannoncade, left on Whirlway, right on Dark Star to end. 

CBOCS Special Projects - Volunteers Wanted (posted September 15, 2014)

Paper Mache hobbyist and artists.  CBOCS is making a very large (2’ X 3’) oyster and (9”) pearl for the Halloween Fun Night at the Waterpark. Your TALENT is needed in crafting this project to be completed by October 19. Materials will be provided for manufacturing on a couple of Saturday mornings September 20 and 27 at Town Hall. Contact John Bacon to get involved.

Woodworkers and Carpenters.  CBOCS is making 70 flora identification signs to put along the Fishing Creek Railway Trail. Assembly of these signs onto posts is the next step in the process. This requires power screw drivers and drills. Several woodworkers / carpenters are needed for couple of hours at the Chesapeake Village water tower shed on a Saturday morning October 11. Assembly needs to be completed before October 25 when the signs will be installed during Fishing Creek Fall cleanup day. Materials will be provided. Contact John Bacon if available.

Trail Monitors.  CBOCS is assisting CHESPAX in hosting 14 student field trips in the next 2 months. We need some people to help set up and take down each day, learn the various oyster stations, answer questions and pass out the “Treasures of a Tidal Creek” activity book. This starts at 8 AM and lasts till 1:30 PM. Most of the time is sitting in the golf cart in case it is needed to move someone off the trail. Specific date needed is September 24. This is a good opportunity to learn about the trail education program. Contact John Bacon if available for this or any of the other days listed in the CBOCS calendar.

Booth Duty.  CBOCS is having a display and information table at the North Beach Bay Harvestfest on October 4. We need a couple of people to operate the booth from 1PM to 6PM and help take it down. This is an excellent opportunity to meet people and explain the functions of CBOCS. There will be live oysters in tanks showing their ability to clean up bay water. Contact John Bacon if you are available to promote CBOCS at this event.

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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