Oyster Gardening Project Aims to Create a Swimmable and Fishable Baltimore Inner Harbor

T. Rowe Price associates raised more than 3,000 oysters that will filter more than 110,000 gallons of water a day
Jul 2, 2015 4:30 PM ET

Over the last nine months, a group of T. Rowe Price associates raised more than 3,000 oysters that will help clean Baltimore’s Inner Harbor through the Healthy Harbor Oyster Partnership. This was a collaborative effort with the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, local businesses, and area schools. The oysters raised will filter more than 110,000 gallons of water a day.

The Healthy Harbor Oyster Partnership grows oysters to improve the harbor’s water quality and to generate awareness of Chesapeake Bay conservation efforts. The program’s goal is to clean the water in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor so that it is swimmable and fishable by 2020.

“Achieving that goal will require considerable effort on the part of the city, the business community, and the residents of the entire Baltimore region,” says David Petty, who is Head of Corporate Tax for T. Rowe Price and also a board member for Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore. “Having T. Rowe Price associates participate in the gardening project creates an opportunity to spread the message about the role of oysters in filtering bay water.” 

One fully grown oyster can filter 50 gallons of water a day, making oysters the perfect water-cleaning tool. At their peak population in the late 19th century, there were enough oysters to filter the entire Chesapeake Bay in three days—now it takes a year.

T. Rowe Price was responsible for overseeing 15 cages of baby oysters—also known as spat—and taking care of them during a nine-month period. The submerged cages required regular cleaning to ensure the baby oysters were receiving adequate food and oxygen.

The T. Rowe Price Foundation also supported the Chesapeake Bay Lab Experience, which provided 1,000 Baltimore City Public Schools students, during the 2014–2015 school year, the opportunity to learn about the Healthy Harbor Oyster Partnership and understand the importance of oysters in a science-lab environment. 

On June 8, the nine-month project culminated when T. Rowe Price associates released their baby oysters at the Fort Carroll oyster sanctuary. This sanctuary provides a home for the oysters where they will not be fished, so they can live their lives out and continue to filter the water.