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Oyster restoration goes orbital: concrete orbs offer a biosphere

Associated Press - June 30, 2007 2:15 PM ET

OYSTER, Va. (AP) - Some Chesapeake Bay oysters will have concrete condos.

Students from the Tandem Friends School in Charlottesville showed on the Eastern Shore last week, bearing 200 concrete balls. The orbs were set in salty, shallow water in Magothy Bay near Skidmore Island and in shallows at Smith Island.

The experiment brought the school together with a diverse group: The Nature Conservancy, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Allied Concrete Company.

Allied's president, Gus Lorder, approached the conservancy a year ago after reading that concrete might be a suitable habitat for struggling oysters.

His Charlottesville company donated materials and concrete, which students shaped into reef balls.

The experiment is the latest twist in using alternative materials to attract and grow native oysters that have been killed off by disease, lost habitat and overfishing.

If the concrete orbs are successful, Allied wants to expand the experiment next year.

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