Monday, December 4, 2017

Gloucester Times Article about Oyster Restoration on the North Shore

There was a delightful write up in the Gloucester Times about the release of oysters raised in the upweller MOP operates with Maritime Gloucester.  You can see the original article here. 

We were pleased to see that this project helped us achieve our goals of getting more oysters in the water and education as thousands of people reached. 

From tank to estuary  
Mike Springer photo of Steve Parkes of Maritime Gloucester casting seed upon the waters. 

The Massachusetts Oyster Project has successfully transferred about 60,000 juvenile oysters into estuaries in the waters off Essex, Gloucester and Ipswich to cap off its first season.
Now, it’s really up to the oysters.
“Obviously, we really want to keep an eye on them and make sure they do well,” said Jennifer Filliault of the Massachusetts Oyster Project. “It should take them a couple years to get to the standard size, which is about 3 inches.”
From July to November, the Massachusetts Oyster Project, in partnership with Maritime Gloucester, raised the oysters in a tank at the maritime education and museum on Harbor Loop. The tiny bivalves started off no bigger than a red-pepper flake and grew first to the size of a dime and then a nickel before being transferred into the wild.
“Maritime Gloucester was just a fantastic partner to work with,” Filliault said. “We had great survivability of the oysters and they became a real resource for educating students and visitors about oysters.”
She estimates more than 5,000 students and 20,000 Maritime Gloucester visitors visited the oyster tank and learned of the social and environmental benefits of oysters. The project provided aquaculture training to Maritime Gloucester interns, volunteers and staff.
The project also formed an alliance with Salem State University researchers to monitor the growth and survival of the oysters in the Essex location.
The oysters — standard Eastern oysters which are individually capable of filtering up to 50 gallons of water per day — now are the property of the individual communities, which will administer when and if they become part of the allocation annually reserved for public gathering.
But, according to Filliault, the oysters will have had the chance to go through several spawning seasons before they reach harvesting size, thus helping organically expand the population in the waters in which they reside.
“We’d like to see them stay in the water, spawn and multiply,” she said.
Filliault said plans for 2018 include working again with Maritime Gloucester on growing another batch of oysters in Gloucester, as well as seeking out other locations and partners on the North Shore or elsewhere to expand the stock of oysters available for transfer.
Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Mass Oyster's Restoration Activity

Over the past ten years, Mass Oyster has been focused on four goals.
  1. Raising awareness about the importance oysters and oyster restoration.
  2. Oyster restoration (Either directly or through financial support of the programs of others.)
  3. Oyster shell recycling
  4. Legislation to improve the Commonwealth's regulatory environment that has impeded our progress with actual restoration programs. 
This post focuses on where we have been actively working across our coast.

Mass Oyster Project Activity Map
Mass Oyster Project Activity Map 

Working North to South-
  • Ipswich- placing seed oysters for oyster propagation
  • Essex- placing seed oysters for oyster propagation
  • Gloucester- raising seed oysters in partnership with the Maritime Gloucester and soon placing oysters for propagation
  • Boston- placing seed oysters for propagation- placing recycled shell
  • Wellfleet- providing recycled shell and financial support to support restoration/propagation
  • Wareham- providing recycled shell and financial support to support restoration/propagation

Thanks to the hard work of our team the footprint is growing. We have learned a great deal and achieved considerable success.  

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Eight Fun Oyster Facts

We have been restoring oysters in Massachusetts for a decade; helping increase populations in Wellfleet, Wareham, and Boston as well as the recent addition Massachusetts' Northshore towns of Gloucester, Essex and Ipswich. In that time we have learned a great deal about oysters and enjoyed slurping down quite a few.  Here are eight interesting facts to ponder.
1. Oyster eating is ancient.  The oldest oyster middens (shell heaps) have been radiocarbon dated to 4,000 B.C., and oyster eating has thousands of years of history among Native Americans along both coasts.  These piles could once be found locally in Cambridge and on the Boston Harbor Islands as well as further North as Maine's Demariscotta River. In Westport, the middens were so large that in the 1800's carriageways were cut through the 40 foot high piles for tours to entertain tourists. (Those Native Americans may have been building up defenses against erosion and coastal storms!) It's also part of the historical record in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, medieval France and England, and even among the Mayans.
Ancients enjoying oysters.

2. Yes, oysters can hear. As we highlighted in a recent Facebook post scientists subjected oysters to low-frequency sounds like those made by cargo ships, human-caused explosions and wind turbines. It caused oysters to clamp their shells shut. Higher-frequency sounds like those made by a speedboat didn't seem to bother them. If you have oysters in a tank, tapping on it can cause them to close their shells, so this is not a huge surprise.
3. Oyster shells are great for your garden. In Colonial times oyster shells were spread on fields to lower the soil acidity. As the shells break down, they release calcium into the soil, which can improve soil pH and lead to healthier plants. In some areas live oysters were used for this purpose. And the shell middens mentioned earlier were often mined for this purpose. If you use expensive bone meal for your bulbs, you may want to think about using oyster shell instead. We also recycle oyster shell working with Boston's SaveThatStuff- they are laid down in inter-tidal areas to give baby oysters a base for attachment.
4. Oysters are mentioned in two Shakespeare plays. "Why, then/the world's mine oyster/Which I with sword will open," is from "The Merry Wives of Windsor" and is the origin of the famous phrase. "As You Like It" includes the less well-known line, "Rich honesty dwells like a miser, sir, in a poor house, as your Pearl in your fouled Oyster."

5. Oysters clean the water. Every day, a single oyster can filters about 40 gallons of water. They do it by pulling water over their gills, which trap nutrients and algae — and the water leaves the oyster cleaner than it came in. We have been repeating this mantra for years as we advocated for their use in polluted areas of Boston Harbor such as Fort Point Channel, Chelsea Creek and the Mystic River. In this blog you can find time lapse videos of them cleaning tanks full of water. (This makes a great school science project or demonstration.)
The oyster pushes water over its gills where nutrients, silt and bacteria are trapped. 

6. Groups of oysters create habitat for other sea life. Oysters grow into reefs that contain nooks and crannies. Those nooks and crannies can shelter 200 other species including shrimp, eels, lobsters, crabs, pogeys and barnacles. These species further support the food chain and improve fishing.  
Oysters Clustering to form a reef.

7. Oyster beds protect against the effects of climate change. A reef made up of oysters not only cleans the water and creates habitat, it also can mitigate coastal flooding and erosion by absorbing 80 percent or more of wave energy, which is especially valuable during large storms. And, oysters are far more attractive than cement or steel bulkheads. (Did the native Americans in Westport know this?)
8. Oyster Restoration can be accomplished inexpensively.  For $30 all-in you can begin a program using a Fran Spat Pool. This ingenious technique can produce 20 million fertile spat in a season!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Maryland Hosting Dedicated Fishing Events on Oyster Restoration Sites

We have been impressed how fishing groups around the country have been embracing oyster restoration to improve their catch. By using oyster restoration to create habitat and support the food chain the number and size of fish rises significantly according to academic studies.  We have seen oyster restoration near fishing piers and in targeted areas in the Carolina's and Texas. 

To highlight the improvement and document it Sherwood, Maryland is organizing a tournament this fall on a restoration area. The Rod and Reef Slam will be on October 7 and has a variety of classes including youth and Kayak. 

Here is a bit more about the event. 


We're celebrating the beginning of a turn for the better in the Chesapeake’s fish and crab habitat. Oyster restoration is beginning to make a difference.
When an estuary loses almost all of its keystone oyster reefs like the Chesapeake has, the change causes fundamental damage.
What has the Bay lost? We know from archaeologists that colonists in St. Mary’s City found sheepshead in abundance in the lower Potomac in the 17th century. How about black sea bass? Tautogs? Puppy drum (red and black)? Spadefish? Filefish?
Some of those fish are turning up now in Virginia, mostly around the rocks on the tubes of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Some of them are beginning to show up on new reef structures in Maryland, including the reef ball field at Cook’s Point in the mouth of the Choptank.
We want to celebrate this return, keep it growing, and give Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) some data on recreational fishing opportunities around these restoration projects. Join us for a tournament that focuses on three restoration reef areas: the MARI Tilghman Island Reef just outside Knapps Narrows, the Harris Creek reefs, and the Cook’s Point reef ball field in the mouth of the Choptank. Multiple partners have worked together to build these reefs, including the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office, Coastal Conservation Association, Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
This tournament will be a little different. You won’t win just for the biggest fish. Prizes will be awarded for how many species you catch, and then how long your fish are. We’re celebrating variety, and (we hope) the return of some of these great reef species that we’ve been missing. Come join us!


ENTRY FEE: $50 Includes tournament entry, after party food, giveaways, live entertainment and access to a cash bar. Register prior to September 15 to be guaranteed a free Rod and Reef Slam Tournament Shirt.
YOUTH ENTRY: Youth ages 16 and under may participate for free with a participating adult.
AFTER PARTY & AWARDS CEREMONY ONLY: $10 Includes food and entertainment
AFTER PARTY & AWARDS LOCATION: From 3:00p.m.–7:00 p.m. at Lowes Wharf Marina & Inn, 21651 Lowes Wharf Road, Sherwood, MD 21665. Shallow water anchorage at Lowes Wharf is available with water taxis to shuttle boaters to the after party.
FISHING BOUNDARIES: Harris Creek Oyster Sanctuary, Cook’s Point Oyster Sanctuary/ Artificial Reef, Tilghman Island Artificial Reef. Coordinates for the fishing boundaries are forthcoming in the Gallery section of this webpage below.
SPECIES: Any species may be caught. Catch, photo, and release all undersized fish. Refer to the restrictions set by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and abide by the law.
To register go to the link above.  And if you have questions, you can email a contact.