Earlier this week MOP made a presentation on our efforts to restore oysters at the International Conference on Shellfish Restoration. It was fascinating for several reasons. First, the variety of initiatives was amazing. They included state run efforts in the
Carolinas and non-profit shell recycling initiatives. The geographic reach extended from the Audobon Society’s work on Cape Cod to the other side of the Globe in . Pakistan
Second, we were surprised to see that we knew many people and they were aware of MOP’s work. One person whose name was mentioned favorably in several contexts was Island Creek Oysters founder Skip Bennet. The Island Creek Foundation has been actively supporting an exciting initiative to grow shellfish in
. How he found time for this as well as opening the Island Creek Oyster Bar is beyond me! Tanzania
Third, we learned a great deal- Two presentations stand out.
Professor Lisa Kellogg of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Studies has done excellent work on oysters and nitrogen removal. Nitrogen is a major pollutant in human waste that is linked to harmful algae blooms. My cryptic notes indicate that areas with oysters are 5-8 x more effective at nitrogen removal and that a one acre oyster reef process 1.9 pounds more of nitrogen than areas without oysters. When factoring in nitrogen sequestration in the shells, it could be much more.
Professor Kellogg also presented data on how oyster reefs add to the animal life and it can be more than 10X greater on an oyster reef. This confirms our observations that oyster reefs serve as hosts to a variety of desirable species including shrimp, small fisth, crabs, eels and lobsters. These small fish in turn draw the larger fish who feed on them.
Professor Mark Green of
St. Joseph’s College in provided some valuable insights on the acidity of the silt-water interface in harbor bottoms. His team measured several areas including Maine . Looking at the pH measure of acidity it can be below the 7.6 level which is the minimum for oysters to form more shell. Interestingly the addition of oyster shell in the silt can raise it from 7.1 to 7.8. So oysters can impact their environment favorably. Boston Harbor
Professor Green’s information is interesting when we think of MOP’s work as we have seen some interesting outcomes in the growth of our oysters. The oysters in cages suspended in the water column grew best. The cages on the bottom grew slower with those closest to silted areas having the slowest growth. Could it be acidity related? We don’t know. But we are designing experiments to find out.
We were happy to learn that a foundation affiliated with the global conglomerate has made a grant to Siemens. The company is a leader in medical technology, industrial automation and renewable energy including windpower. To learn more about the many programs funded by the organization you can click on Siemens Caring Hands Foundation.