Oysters to decontaminate the bay of New York
New York Bay, where once life was abundant, is now known as a no-go zone because of its pollution. It is to remedy this problem that “The billion Oyster Project” was born in 2014. It plans to save the bay by using the filtering capacity of the oyster.
An Amazing Creature
Indeed, the adult oyster has impressive filtering capabilities: it can filter more than 50 gallons of water, that is, about 190 liters of water a day. The oyster pumps, indeed, the sea water to capture the particles necessary for its food, and the oxygen necessary for its respiration. What it does not eat, the oyster rejects with the feces (excrement). Also, their proliferation is a kind of natural barrier that provides habitat for many aquatic species and prevents waves of storms that, without it, could have devastated the coastline.
A green generation
To transform New York Bay, the association has actively worked the local population. 75 restaurants and 70 schools as well as many volunteers have been working to make the situation evolve in an environmentally friendly manner.
New York schoolchildren raise oyster larvae in their science rooms transformed into giant incubators. Oysters spend the first two or three weeks of their larval life swimming freely. At the end of their larval period, they settle out of the water column to reach the bottom of the harbor. If they do not find a hard surface, they fall into the mud and die. The shells of other oysters are a perfectly hard substrate. However, oyster beds in New York Harbor have disappeared. That’s why the billion Oyster program is harvesting oyster shells from restaurants to create new natural barriers.
Pollution of New York Bay
In 1906, to enter the port of New York it was necessary to sail in the Half Moon of 220,000 hectares of oyster beds, which had fed the local population for generations. The virgin estuary, with its oysters at the base, was home to thousands of associated species and was one of the most biologically productive, diverse and dynamic environments on the planet.
A little later, New Yorkers having consumed the last oysters, the natural barriers were covered with mud or silt, and the quality of the water became insufficient to allow the regeneration of oysters or any other marine creature. The port became toxic and remained almost lifeless for over 50 years until the adoption of the Clean Water Act in 1972, which prohibited the dumping of waste and untreated sewage in the port.
The goal of the project is to relocate one billion live oysters until 2035, and to obtain about 100 hectares of oyster beds. The goal of this project is to rebuild this port, the most productive bay in the North Atlantic, and return its title of world oyster capital to New York. In addition to water sanitation, this device also had positive effects as it attracted humpback whales. These are back in this area after several years of absence.