Where do your oyster shells go? The Oyster Recovery Partnership in OC


When you’re in Ocean City, you have to eat some shell fish. Oysters. Clams. Mussels. Do you ever wonder what the restaurant does with the shells of these delicious creatures when you’re finished eating them?

Since 1994, the non-profit group, Oyster Recovery Partnership, has been producing and planting hundreds of millions of oysters back into the Chesapeake Bay. The Partnership has been working with a group of restaurants in the Ocean City restaurants to rehabilitate more than 1,300 acres of crucial oyster reefs.

Restaurants in Ocean City like The Bonfire, Embers, and Reflections donate a weekly minimum of 5 containers, or about 2 to 3 bushels of shells, to the oyster establishments. All of the shells leftover after a great dinner are collected in 5 gallon containers with lids and picked up to be transported to the Chesapeake every week.

Once the shells are taken to the Bay, they are used to naturally create a three-dimensional reef that will provide a home for growing mussels, barnacles, sea sponges, and small fish. Larger fish like white perch and striped bass are attracted to the reefs to feed on the smaller fish. The Maryland blue crab can often be seen thriving in restored oyster reefs in the Chesapeake, also.

The Oyster Recovery Partnership’s goal is to build upon this shell recycling program that is now focused within the Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Annapolis and Ocean City regions, and expand the collection points across Maryland and Washington, D.C. When you’re in Ocean City, ask if you favorite restaurant is a member of the Recovery project and if they’re not, encourage them to participate in the Shell Recycling Alliance.

The staff at The Bonfire, Embers, and Reflections believe that the native Eastern or American Oyster is a vital species in the Chesapeake Bay. These species of oysters can live for over 10 years and filter up to 50 gallons of bay water a day. Keep these restaurants in mind the next time you’re looking for an eco-friendly dining option in Ocean City:

The Bonfire Restaurant: 7009 Coastal Highway, (410) 524-7171
Embers Restaurant: 2305 Philadelphia Ave, (410) 289-4053
Reflections Restaurant: 6600 Coastal Highway, (410) 524-5252

The Oyster Recovery Partnership non-profit is helping encourage public awareness and education to aid in protecting our environment on the shores of Maryland. Eat at a restaurant that supports the rehabilitation of thousands of acres of crucial oyster reefs.

Leave a Comment