Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Oyster Orgy to Benefit MOP at Tavern on the Water April 15th

On April 15th Charlestown's Tavern on the Water will be hosting the second annual benefit for the Massachusetts Oyster Project from 7:00-10:00pm. With paid admission you get five oysters, a beer, a great time and the opportunity to help improve Boston Harbor. Admission is $15 if registered in advance and $20 at the door. The event will feature oysters from sponsor Island Creek, an oyster shucking competition, prizes, and lots of good times. The Oyster Project is a non-profit organization restoring water cleansing oysters to the Charles River estuary. To register please call Tavern on the Water at 617-242-8040 or stop by the Tavern, which is located at 1 8th Street Charlestown.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Mass Oyster Hats Around the Globe!

Tina Gibson sent this photo ofher wearing a Massachusetts Oyster Project Hats in Egypt. We will soon be setting up a link to purchase them on-line for $14 plus $2 shipping. In the meantime you can send a check to MOP at 67 Old Rutherford Avenue Charlestown, MA 02129, or visit Charlestown's Olivia Browning store who carries them.

Send us a photo of you and your MOP hat!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Georgia Oyster Reef Restoration

A good friend at the Division of Coastal Zone Management sent me this original story about oyster reef restoration in Georgia, what is most amazing to me is that they have lost at least 90% of their oyster reefs and possibly 99%!

AmeriCorps workers load bags of oysters on to the wooden pallets to create an oyster habitat. (Steve Bisson/Savannah Morning News)

Bag oyster shells are used to create a new oyster habitat. (Steve Bisson/Savannah Morning News)

By Mary Landers
In the past six years, researchers at the University of Georgia Marine Extension Service have created 14 oyster reefs up and down the Georgia coast.

Now they're taking on one of their biggest challenges yet, a nearly half-acre reef on the Skidaway River behind the UGA aquarium.
Eight AmeriCorps workers started the reef this week, but volunteers are welcome to get their feet muddy Saturday and early next week.
"It's a great opportunity for folks to see the whole process from bagging to putting it into the marsh," said Daniel Harris, oyster restoration coordinator.
The marine extension program is partnering with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Coastal Conservation Association on this reef and another two on Sapelo Island
There's plenty of work to go around. Creating the Skidaway reef requires the bagging of 10,000 bushels of oyster shells.Volunteers will stuff the shells into plastic mesh bags, which help keep them in place against the tide and in the wake of passing boats. They'll then pile them onto pallets laid in the marsh to undergird the structure.

For Anna Hill, a 23-year-old AmeriCorps worker from Fairfax, Va., slogging through the pluff mud and slapping away gnats Thursday morning was worth it. "I like getting dirty," she said. "And being in the water and outside."

When complete, the reef will stretch more than a quarter mile along the shore.

About a century ago, Georgia was America's oyster hub, leading the nation in oyster landings. The bivalve's decline had multiple causes, including overharvest, drought and disease. But each of those problems was exacerbated by a simple practice: Oystermen didn't put the shells back in the water. Baby oysters settle and grow on the shells of previous generations. With fewer and smaller oyster reefs in the water, each young oyster is squeezed for space.

In 2009, only 7,000 pounds of oyster meat was harvested in the state, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. It's estimated 90 percent to 99 percent of the reefs that existed in Georgia 100 years ago have disappeared.

Oysters are more than a delicacy; oyster reefs help prevent shore erosion. As a filter feeder, a single adult oyster can clean up 2.5 gallons of water an hour. And seafood lovers take note: Oysters are a keystone species that provides fish, crabs and shrimp with a place to hide, feed and raise young.

On a day when the water's clear, you can see juvenile shrimp swarming on an oyster reef, Harris said. "They swim right up to your face."

Help build a reef

Those interested in volunteering should wear old sneakers or other appropriate shoes and clothes that can get muddy. A causeway of pallets will lead into the water to make access easier. Gloves and snacks will be provided. All ages are welcome at the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography campus, 10 Ocean Science Circle.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Mass Oyster Hats available at Olivia Browning In Charlestown

Upscale gift retailer Olivia Browning is now carrying the Mass Oyster Project hats in the 20 City Square store in Charlestown. While you are there, you can also find wonderful gifts, fun things for children and tasteful decorations for the home.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Mass Oyster Hats Have Arrived! Spring Parties! Conference Season! Fort Point Channel Restoration Initiative

Like a wave building to crash on a beach the spring season for the Massachusetts Oyster Project is arriving with breathtaking swiftness.

Fort Point Channel

On the oyster placement side, we recently met with the Friends of the Fort Point Channel’s abutting property owners to discuss raising oysters and beginining an oyster restoration initiative in the Channel. To learn more about the Channel click on Link to Friends of Fort Point Channel. This is an area of the harbor that has considerable run-off flowing into it. We are excited about working with this group and beginning this exciting initiative. Already we have several grant applications outstanding including one put together by star grant writer Mary Brevard that was submitted on Friday.

The Channel includes landmark buildings such as The Children’s Museum, Atlantic Wharf, and the Intercontinental Hotel. Here is a view of the Children's Museum. 

To learn more about this wonderful institution you can click on Link to Boston Children's Museum.

Hats are here! Show your support.

The new Massachusetts Oyster Project Hats have arrived. We will soon be setting up a link to purchase them on-line for $14 plus $2 shipping. In the meantime you can send a check to MOP at 67 Old Rutherford Avenue Charlestown, MA 02129. 


Spring parties are beginning. Save the following dates.

  • April 15 Tavern on the Water- Charlestown
  • May 2 B & G Oysters
Scientific Presentations and Conferences

MOP also will be presenting at two spring scientific conferences in April. At the New England Fish and Wildlife Conference in Newton we will give an overview of the oyster restoration program's progress to date. At the Amherst Water Resource Conference we will be discussing the relative cost-effectiveness of oysters vs. nitorgen extraction at sewage treatment plants  Oysters are 1.4% nitrogen by weight as they sequester nitrogen in their shells. The average person excretes 12 pounds of nitrogen per year and excessive amounts can lead to bacterial blooms, red tides and imbalances in coastal ecosystems.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Slow Food and Cambridge Brewery Host Awesome Evening for MOP

The folks at Slow Food Network and the Cambrige Brewery blew us away with a fine repast which maximized the impact of the powerfully good Island Creek Oysters.

Slow Food Slow Food is an organization that originated in Italy and is focused on promoting foods that are local, clean (raised in a healthy way) and good. The meal’s center piece was Island Creek Oysters are raised a short drive South of Boston in Duxbury Bay. Over the last 15 years oyster farming has grown to be the largest industry in the town and the oysters there can cleanse the harbors waters every week. (Each can filter 30 gallons of water per day- or about a bathtub’s volume) Interestingly oysters also are unusual in that a farm raised oyster tastes essentially the same as a wild one raised in the same area.
Special thanks go to

The Island Creek Oyster organization for donating the oysters.
Phil Bannatyne’s team at Cambridge Brewing Co.- who managed a logistically challenging evening with style.

Exec Chef David Drew with his team.

Brewmaster Will Meyers for talking us through 5 courses of wonderful brews.
Brewmaster Will Meyers with MOP Director of Operations Mat Brevard and MOP CFO Tina Gibson

Slowfood Network’s Nicole Nacamuli for putting everyone together.

Laura Kowalski MOP GIS Mapping expert with MOP CSO Rich Bradshaw
Go Shuck An Oyster Blogger Josh Hoch with his lovely wife.
See his write-up at GoShuckAnOyster

Future Physicians from Tufts Sohrab Virk, Neal Kumar, and Abe Malkin

Monday, March 1, 2010

Oysters Preparing to Enter the New England Aquarium

As we continue to drive the restoration of oysters to Boston Harbor, it is nice to see a similar effort underway at the region’s premiere aquarium. We have begun working with an aquarist Peter Gawne who is working behind the scenes to keep oysters in a backstage tank in anticipation of eventually putting them into display.
This would sound as simple as dropping them in a tank, but it is far from it. Yes, you could drop them in and they would survive for a while. However, one needs to raise plankton of the proper size to feed them, get it to them before the filter does, maintain the proper water properties, and deal with temperatures that do not swing as widely as those in the open waters.

Here is a photo of Peter hard at work behind the scenes while a young fellow keeps the gawkers at bay. For more pictures go to Oyster Work at the New England Aquarium
We did have significant mortality in the first 13 oysters we supplied to Peter. He has had better luck with larger oysters rescued from Shaw’s Supermarket and a second set we provided to him. We have speculated at length about the mortality, but we just do not have the ability to pin it down.

It would be nice to see the oysters on display given that one of Boston’s oldest restaurants is the Union Oyster House established in 1826 Union Oyster House and that you can see oyster shells in the mortar in the old State House Old State House which dates to 1713.

Peter is an excellent guy and a wonderful teacher. Working with him has been a joy.