Friday, May 18, 2018

An Oyster Reef in Canarsie!

Photo by Sebago clubmate Jeff Krause
I'm taking a break from my slow meander through my spring trip reports (I've done one paddle, two paddle, and then there will be a three paddle and maybe a four to take me home, although the last may fall by the wayside due to other good stuffs going on) to share something very cool that went on at the club this week - the installation of Canarsie's very own Community Oyster Reef!

We've had various little test cages of oysters hanging from our dock for a while, and evidently they did OK, because on Tuesday, club members and neighbors gathered at the club and a van from NYC's Billion Oyster Project pulled up loaded with oyster shells, which the volunteers loaded into wire cages and anchored in the muck of the Paedergat. Baby oysters need certain surfaces to grow on, and oyster shells are one of their favorites, so the installation of this reef should encourage the establishment of a healthy population right there in the Paedergat, where they'll help to clean the water, which is WAY cleaner since the new sewage holding plant was opened (the old one was woefully inadequate to the size of the neighborhood, and on rainy days, and sometimes on other days too, you could smell the basin from the street, it was just foul) but still could use some help. NYC used to be famous for oysters, but between overfishing and pollution, they were pretty much gone - with the water being so much cleaner now, the Billion Oyster Project and the various community groups with whom they work are doing everything they can to bring this key part of the harbor ecology back from the brink. Here's hoping for the success of the Canarsie reef!

I'm very sorry that I couldn't play hooky from work to go help out, but there was some good reporting from the club, and there's some good general info on the internet, so here are some links:

Channel 11 was there, here's their report;

Jeff Krause, one of the coordinators for the day, who took the photo above and who probably knows about as much about Jamaica Bay's wildlife as anyone at the club, is featured in the news report and also put up a very nice set of photos on Flickr.  

Here is the Billion Oyster Project's website

And here is a well written story of the history of NY Harbor's oysters on Untapped Cities.


peppylady (Dora) said...

Hello from the other side of the Mountains. I haven't been in canoe for ages. I have never gone oyster gathering. But do enjoy them.
When you fine the time stop in for a cup of coffee

bonnie said...

Thanks and hello!

These ones aren't for eating, they'll be filtering some water that's way better than it used to be but still sketchy, especially after a heavy rain when there can be some overflow from the sewage holding facility up the basin from here. But it's exciting!

Jeff K said...

Bonnie, thanks for the writeup! We had a few other club members on hand, and everyone got to be part of the human chain sending 138 20-pound "files" full of oyster shells down to the "cabinets" that make up the reef. All we had to do was open the gate and watch the extremely well-run team from HOP do their thing. They were under time pressure to get the thing done while the super-new-moon low tide was in place -- more great planning on their part. And everybody was out by 4 PM before the big storm hit!

All the teachers who were there were thrilled with the club, and the great weather. Some of them said they wouldn't have worn nice school clothes if they thought they were going to be handling mucky cages, but were more than happy to be out in the sun rather than cooped up in a cubicle! Some left early because they still had late classes to teach. A teacher's job is never done...