Great things often come in small packages, and when it comes to cleaning up the Bronx River, environmentalists are turning their attention to oysters—nature’s answer to improved water quality. A crew aboard a 100-foot barge dumped 120 tons of oyster shells into the river on Monday across from Soundview Park in hopes of spurring an oyster renaissance that will bring aquatic life back to the harbor. The shells will act as a base for 125,000 baby oysters that the group is planning to place on top of the shells in the future.
The Oyster Research and Restoration Project is far from an attempt to grow the tasty mollusks for New Yorkers’ consumption. The placement of the shells and oyster larvae is strictly environmental. One single oyster can filter as much as 50 gallons of water per day, thus dramatically benefiting overall water quality and naturally extending the ecosystem.
“We also think it can help create a more resilient shore in the long run,” said Matt Larson, director of wetlands restoration for the New York City Parks Department, to CBS Local.
During the 1600s, the oyster population in New York was booming. But due to over-harvesting and pollution (we can thank the Industrial Revolution for that), the dismal waterways contributed to the near extinction of oysters in the harbor.
More than 30 organizations, comprised of a slew of nonprofits, government agencies and scientists, are involved in the effort. The shells distributed throughout the water will create a one-acre oyster reef that can also absorb some storm energy. Most importantly, the restoration of a storm reef will encourage the return of a thriving natural habitat to the water. Collaborators hope to reach 20 acres of natural oyster reef by 2020.
Via Daily News