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YRSCB assists CBF in Reef Ball Construction at VIMS

Oyster reefball construction begins

Ann and friend

Oyster Reef Ball Construction, October 22, 2015

"This was a fantastic event! It was not only fun and educational but also provided all participants with a real ‘get your hands dirty’ experience in our efforts to attain clean water and the restoration of one of Virginia’s finest assets – oysters!" ~ Anne Schlegel, DEQ

It was the perfect day for building reef balls in October - clear and warm. YRSCB members along with Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) staff and volunteers got to work early on October 22, 2015. Jackie Shannon and Heather North took the lead in instructing the group on proper reef ball construction. They also provided some tips for making the job easier and more successful.

After receiving training, the army of volunteers gathered the necessary hammers for deconstruction of reef balls made by a previous group that are slated for placement into the Lynnhaven River. Jackie says that the reef ball areas are not only good for oyster spat habitat but are also a favored location of fishermen since the structures provide good habitat for fish along with their supporting food sources.

After deconstruction and moving the concrete reef balls to the side, the group began reconstructing the moulds for another round. They gathered the hammers for driving the construction pins that keep the moulds together, air compressors for filling the air pocket balls, sand for sealing the bottom, and sugar water squirt bottles for easier removal of the air pocket balls after the concrete dries.

The group proved to be large and efficient so that we were finished long before the concrete truck was scheduled to arrive. We did not waste time sitting around but rather began filling oyster bags with cleaned shell. A 6-tube jig was created to make this task a bit easier. A PVC tube is wrapped in a mesh sleeve which is clamped at one end. The sleeved tube is placed in the jig. After there are 6 tubes in place, a bucket of shell is poured over the jig to fill the tubes. Each tube is pulled out of the jig and then the tube is pulled out of the sleeve leaving a nice and neat net bag of shell. This bag is then taken to another station for a twist and another clamp, then wheelbarrowed to a stack of shellbags. Again, the YRSCB and CBF crew excelled in this assembly line and good progress was made until the Rappahannock Concrete truck arrived.

Bucket brigade!! It was time to don the goggles (which at first I thought was unnecessary, but then found I was the one with the most concrete splatters on my face). Five gallon buckets were placed under the concrete truck shute and then Heather let the concrete slide! Molds were filled then beaten with rubber mallets to remove air and move the concrete until it reached the top. After drying, the moulds are popped off, the inflatable balls are removed and the reefball is stored until placement into a selected area (these were destined for the Lynnhaven River). Hopefully oyster larvae will find these reefballs suitable for dwelling. The goal is for them to settle as oyster spat and grow to be adult oysters that will help to filter and clean the Bay.

See photos below and click on each photo to enlarge.

buckets of shell Jackie instructs on how to build a mould Jackie giving direction Why are we building these reefballs?
Successful population Everything assembled for building Working together to build Crew at work
Lots of bending and lifting beautiful day to work Some issues with under inflated balls Lots of reef balls
Old oyster reefball populated with shells Patti pouring Pretty orange crates Bucket brigade
Jackie carrying a bucket Wet concrete is heavy Finished mould Filled mould
Tapping the mould Pouring concrete Helping to build a mould Covered in concrete



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