Oysters Working Toward Improving Water Quality in NY-NJ Harbor Estuary

One of the projects of NY/NJ Baykeeper is to improve the water quality of the NY-NJ Harbor Estuary by repopulating the area with oysters.  Oysters are a keystone species native to the area and are key to improving the health of the Estuary.

Baykeeper is the only nonprofit organization conducting oyster research and restoration in both New York and New Jersey.

In NJ, Baykeeper is producing baby oysters for oyster restoration projects at the Aquaculture Facility located at Naval Weapons Station Earle. Here, hatchery raised oyster larvae attach, set, and grow on shell substrate. Once the oysters have “set” on the shell, and have grown for about two months, they are ready for release onto newly established oyster beds or reefs.

Last month, the Baykeeper Oyster Restoration Team launched the Oyster Skiff and set out to check on the oysters at Naval Weapons Station Earle. In summer 2013 over 250,000 baby oysters were produced at the aquaculture facility and hung off the trestle at Earle. June's monitoring trip revealed high oyster survivorship and growth rates, with many organisms present in and around the cages including barnacles, sea squirts, mud crabs, mud snails, polychaetes, spider crabs, Asian shore crabs, blood worms, tautog, and soft shell clams. Soon, spat will be set on shell and reefballs at the aquaculture facility and placed with last season's surviving oysters into structures on the ¼ acre research plot. Sign up for the Baykeeper Newsletter to follow their progress!

In NY, Baykeeper created a large oyster reef at Soundview Park in the Bronx which is split up into a scientific reef where partners monitor oysters for growth and survivorship; and a community reef which holds baskets of oysters used to educate volunteers about the reef and monitoring long term survival of oysters. Both are essential tools in the future of oyster restoration within the estuary. Volunteers are a huge help to Baykeeper because they help monitor oyster growth and notate survivorship. To sign up for the volunteer list, email Allison at allison@nynjbaykeeper.org.

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