Heroes on the Half Shell

Heroes on the Half Shell is a program created by the MSBA’s 2012-2013  Leadership Academy Class, and which has been adopted as a Special Project by the Young Lawyer’s Section of the MSBA.

Did you know that one oyster filters 50 gallons of water per day?

This critical fact is the launching point for the Heroes on the Half Shell Program, which is aimed at educating the public, and children in particular, about the devastating state of our Chesapeake Bay, which is the largest estuary in North America and the third largest in the world. An adult oyster is capable of filtering up to 50 gallons of water per day, and that oysters critical to cleaning the Bay.  A dramatic and dangerous decline in oyster populations, however, has jeopardized the future of the Bay.  Just 120 years ago, the entire Bay could be filtered by oysters in only a few days.  Today, it takes an entire year for the Bay to be filtered by oysters.

Through the Heroes on the Half Shell program, Maryland lawyers work with fifth grade students in Baltimore City schools.  They provide a hands-on, fun, in-class presentation to the students, which demonstrates the manner in which the Chesapeake Bay has arrived to the critical state in which it presently exists.  Then, the students are invited to participate in an oyster-shell collecting competition.  The school that collects the most shells wins a prize and the students are treated to a field trip to the Maryland Science Center, where they can see the educational Oyster Exhibit that was created by the MSBA’s 2012-2013  Leadership Academy Class.

Watch this video:

The oyster shells collected by the students—most of which come from local restaurants—are donated to the Oyster Recovery Partnership, an organization dedicated to oyster recovery in the Bay.  They then recycle the shells—a process which takes approximately a year—and return them to the Bay, where they serve to help regenerate the oyster population.

For the year 2012-2013, the program reached out to over 200 fifth graders and collected 9,280 oyster shells.  Those shells will make homes for 92,800 new oysters that, once mature, will then filter 4,640,000 gallons of Bay water PER DAY!

Read more about last year’s project.

Would you like to volunteer?
The time commitment for this project is relatively minor, but the payback is great!  Please e-mail Amy Grasso at if you are interested in volunteering.

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