The morning of May 16th, 2005, was warm with a beautiful blue sky over Annapolis Harbor as 68 fifth grade students piled out of their busses at the Eastport Yacht Club marina. They were here to plant the oyster spat that they had lovingly nurtured for the last eight months under the piers in the marina.
In their bright red shirts with "Official Oyster Kid" logos they brought up the cages of oysters and cleaned the mud and various "critters" off them. They then did a series of scientific tests to determine mortality rates, growth rates, and general health of the baby oysters. They also did a series of water quality tests in the marina to track the effectiveness of the oysters' filtering the water.
With all of the tests completed the oysters were placed in old fashioned wooden oyster baskets and loaded on the nine volunteer boats of the Eastport Yacht Club Foundation Oyster Fleet. The fleet consisted of nine boats ranging in size from a 20 foot power boat to a 44 foot racing sailboat! A full list of the boats and their skippers/mates is shown at the end of this story.
After getting PFD's on everyone and loading kids, teachers, parents, volunteers, and the oysters into the boats, we headed out to the oyster reef. This year we took the oysters to the Annapolis Maritime Museum which was the site of the original McNasby's Oyster Processing plant. Instead of having the oysters prepared as appetizers we planted them under the docks where thousands of old oyster shells have been deposited to create a new oyster reef. In some of the pictures you can see the kids pouring the oysters over the side onto the reef.
With the planting completed we took the kids on a water tour of Annapolis which was a totally new perspective for most of them who had never been on a boat before. Back at the marina the kids celebrated two birthdays with pizza and drinks provided by the EYC Foundation and Eastport Yacht Club. The two birthdays? One was Kelly Fortune one of the three teachers, and the other was Liberty Elsasser, aged 2, the youngest oyster gardener who accompanied Grandma Nancy and Grandpa Bud Elsasser.
The event was very successful due to the efforts of a number of people who gave so freely of their time to work with the kids in this program. They include Betty Kirchner, Kelly Fortune, and Pam Hanna, the three teachers who make the program work so well throughout the school year. And the skippers who brought their boats to take our kids out on the Bay and give them the enjoyment of being on the water that they're helping to clean up. They are:
Again, thanks to everyone who made this the most successful oyster year so far!
May 2005 Photo Gallery
In November 2005, the kids start to learn about oysters and next year's planting:
Nov 2005 Photo Gallery