A team of environmentalists has an inspiring vision: a Barnegat Bay oyster ocean cleaning oyster colony. Some of you who are not familiar with the situation may ask: why, aren’t there enough oysters in the water already? Well, apparently not. And bringing them back is one insanely difficult job.
Even for professionals, making the oysters stick back to the floor of the ocean is extremely difficult. Still, this collaboration project between environmentalists and scientists has tried. And now, their fingers are crossed. The survival rate for oysters reintroduced in the ocean is extremely low.
Just this Wednesday, the oysters were released. A boat carrying a 250 gallon tank filled with 21 thousand oysters set off from the Ocean Gate dock and released the shells into the water. The leader of the effort, Tim Dillingham, of the American Littoral Society, said that this process is just like re-piecing the damaged puzzle of a deranged ecosystem. This implied a lot of hard work and willpower from the team, he added.
Thus, the project is no easy task. Firstly, the team needed a reef to be created in the Barnegat Bay area. They made one near Good Luck Point. There, back in April, they planted shells totaling 120 cubic yards over a surface area of half an acre on the floor of the bay. After this was done, they needed the actual oysters to grow on the bed they had laid out.
This started in June, with them managing to make the above mentioned spat tank, complete with 70 netted bags full of some 11 thousand conch and oyster shells. These made up about 1.5 million oyster larvae. This may seem like excessively too much, but considering the 1% survival rate of these oysters in the wild, it’s said that it was actually not enough.
But, sadly, only 21 thousand survived and attached to the shells. The team had hoped for a 5% survival rate. They were pretty certain that that would be the case. Sadly though, the final number was only 1.4% of the original.
The whole experiment was funded by the NOAA, or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The money was given with the hope of cleaning up the water. A single oyster, when between two and three years old can clean up 50 gallons each day. This will renew the whole system, bringing crabs and fish, and eventually more oysters.
Still, this little project, of which many are hopeful, is just a small effort compared to others. In Chesapeake Bay, approximately one million oyster babies are reintroduced in the water all at once. Yet the funding that the Littoral Society provides is far more modest.
Image source: njmonthly.com