Monday, March 24, 2014

Boy Scouts Volunteer Labor to Support Oyster Restoration

Here at Mass Oyster (MOP) we had an inventory in the form of a roll of mesh netting. We had purchased it a couple of years ago, but had not been able to use all of it.  It is routinely used for holding shell when it is being exposed to spat in a nursery. 

mesh for bags for oyster shell for oyster restoration
Roll of Mesh Tubing

A friend of MOP was heavily involved in Scouting and seeking a meaningful project with an environmental element for them to pursue.

We worked together with troop leadership to develop the project for the boys. We provided the boys with a spool of netting. The boys  were from Troop 49 of St. Catherine's Parish in Norwood  and they did a fine job. They cut the netting into 36 inch lengths, then passed it off to colleagues who would tie off one end. Then, the yard long pieces were tied into bundles of 20. They made over 20 bundles.

Scouts from Troop 49 hard at work.

The participating boys received the highly coveted Mass Oyster Patch.
Oyster Restoration Patch
Oyster Restoration Patch

The tubes were then delivered to the Cape Cod Commission for the next step.

Massachusetts oysters helped by Norwood Scout Troop
Scout hands over a patch after delivering 429 mesh bags for oyster restoration.
The commission will then load the mesh tubes with recycled shell. 

Then the bags will be delivered to a hatchery where the bags of shell will be immersed in tanks with billions of free floating baby oyster spat. Those spat will settle on the shell and begin to grow.

Bags of Shell at a hatchery collecting spat.

Tiny spat on oyster shell

Numerous spat on a shell after growing to the size of nickels.

The bags of shell are then transferred to estuaries for the baby oysters to grow and 

Oyster reef growing on a castle substructure.

Thank you Troop 49!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Great Article on Cities and the Sea Discusses Dunes and Oysters

There is a terrific article in Orion Magazine talking about managing development on shorelines. We excerpted the portion on oysters in NYC below. But, We encourage you to check out the full article here.

Now, New York City waters are cleaner than they’ve been in decades, and spat—the little larvae of oysters—are floating about, seeking out some substrate to latch on to so they can grow.
“There are oyster larvae,” says landscape architect Kate Orff.  “There’s just no place for them to land. So there are these babies, but then . . .” She pauses and makes a long downward whistle indicating failure. “I get depressed about this, as a mom of two.”
Orff has proposed bringing back New York City’s lost oyster reefs—which could naturally help shield the city from future storm surges—in a project called Oyster-tecture. We meet at a round table in the kitchen of her SCAPE Studio offices on Lower Broadway, with a foggy morning view across Manhattan to the Hudson River.
Her idea is to make a home for the oyster orphans, starting in Brooklyn’s Gowanus Canal, one of the most polluted waterways of the city. Piers are already in place; cages will be lowered into the water that are filled with fuzzy rope, providing lots of surface area for spat to land. (The cages are to keep hungry New Yorkers from prematurely harvesting oysters that won’t be suitable for human consumption for years to come.) She was thrilled when she heard Governor Cuomo give a shout-out to the bivalves after the storm: “It came out of his mouth—‘We need to be thinking about oyster beds’—and I’m like, yes, that’s the goal!”
Orff advocates dredging and filling waterways in a way that supports underwater ecosystems instead of destroying them. “I think a big part of this is thinking about it holistically,” she says. “You can use dredging and filling in a cut-and-build concept throughout the harbor to create a new set of edges and cross-sections that can become armatures for habitat.” As the oysters build upon themselves, making reefs out of their own shells, they work continually to clean the waters, acting as natural filtration systems.
To consider the return of oyster reefs to New York is to explore the bathymetry, or underwater topography, of the waters that surround the city’s islands. Orff explains the mechanics, but it’s as much a history lesson.
“There was once this historic 3-D mosaic of underwater bathymetry, which included barrier islands and oyster reefs and shallower shoal areas that make a threshold into the inner harbor,” she says, using a marker to show how the stretch of Sandy Hook on the Jersey Shore wants to reach up and connect with Coney Island in a series of channels and shoals. If the land mass was permitted to form again, it would help diminish the impact of sea surges. One hard passageway could allow a steady shipping channel. “See this signature?” she taps her marker on the area between Staten Island, Brooklyn, and New Jersey. “This whole area was once shallows, back in 1766, fortified with layers of ecological systems.”
Orff isn’t the only person in the city thinking about oysters. Marit Larson, the NYC Parks Department’s director of wetlands, is working on oyster restoration on the north side of the city. She says that, increasingly, oysters have been showing up on tires and concrete rubble in the Bronx River. In 2006, the Parks Department started designing artificial reefs to supplement the river’s substrate; now they’re working with partners that include NY/NJ Baykeeper and New York Harbor School, which trains low-income kids in hands-on maritime stewardship as they dump 120-ton loads of shells into an area where the East and Bronx rivers converge. One survey taken just before Sandy struck found more than eleven thousand oysters along a mile-wide swath of water. Last summer, students relocated another 100,000 farm-raised spat to the growing reef.
When referencing historical patterns, Kate Orff refers repeatedly to something called the Ratzer Map. In 1766, ten years before the rebellious colonists unshackled their new nation from the British empire, cartographer Bernard Ratzer was trolling the New York Harbor, recording its curves and depths. His sepia-toned map now hangs at the Brooklyn Historical Society, a memory of the city’s once-flourishing natural infrastructure that, if brought back to life, could help mitigate the type of damage experienced during an event like Sandy.
Orff’s pen sweeps across her drawing. “This is a diagram of an ideal world of nature’s protectors. You have layers and layers of barrier dunes, and then vast tracts of wetlands. Wetlands don’t make sense if you have a building and only a little wetland. Wetlands only make sense if they are extensive, so they can really dissipate wave energy.”
Of course, efforts like these can only do so much to counteract the effects of climate change. But if combined with a comprehensive rebuilding of New York’s natural features, they could make a real impact. “There is literally nothing that could have stopped the Sandy surge,” Orff says. “But hard and soft infrastructure solutions could be combined in a win-win-win scenario that would revitalize the harbor landscape, clean the water, and begin to address coastal protection.”

Friday, March 14, 2014

Sea Films on Oysters and Sharks at the Beneath the Waves Film Festival Brewster Mass On April 12.

Save the Date! Atlantic White Shark Conservancy and Cape Cod Museum of Natural History are hosting a Beneath the Waves Film Festival on April 12th @ 6:30 pm at the Brewster Museum. Stay tuned for more details!

shark protection film showing, film festival

Monday, March 10, 2014

Storm Water Seminar March 12 in Worcester

Storm water is an important factor in the health of our estuaries and their suitability for oysters. We still have many Combined Sewer overflows emptying in the Charles and Mystic Rivers. When it rains, water quality drops in Fort Point Channel, East Boston, Winthrop, the Charles River, the Mystic River, etc. etc. 

So one of the ways to help get the blessing for restoring oyster reefs is to clean up what is flowing into the waters at those locations. This also is an issue for the Merrimack and other rivers around the Commonwealth. 

CSO Water quality oyster oyster restoration
Combined Sewer Overflow Allows Waste to Flow Into Waters.

Come join us Wednesday March 12 in Worcester to meet researchers, practitioners, and policymakers in order to identify challenges, opportunities, and next steps within the context of stormwater in our region.

The Water Resources Research Center, WPI, and Clark University are hosting a day-long workshop “Current Stormwater Concerns and Solutions” on the WPI campus to get the stormwater community together and explore new solutions to this evolving problem. Please visit our website at to see the day’s agenda and to register.

This event is free of charge and includes parking and lunch, but space is limited so please be sure to register by March 6, 2014.

Questions can be addressed to

Summer Internship Opportunity Researching Oyster Disease in Beautiful Coastal Alabama

Jessica L. Jones, Ph.D.
Research Microbiologist
FDA, Gulf Coast Seafood Laboratory
Dauphin Island, Alabama

Summer Internships Available- 2014
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Gulf Coast Seafood Laboratory
Dauphin Island, AL

Three positions are currently available for 10- to 12- week internships supporting research at the FDA Gulf Coast Seafood Laboratory (GCSL)/Division of Seafood Science and Technology, Dauphin Island, AL. This Division is within the Office of Food Safety, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN).

Map of Dauphin Island  Oyster research at entrance to Mobile Bay
Map of Dauphin Island Alabam

The participants will assist senior scientists in planning and conducting studies and related activities in support of the FDA’s mission. Responsibilities will include laboratory science in microbiology, molecular biology and/or chemical analysis, such as conventional microbiological analyses, real-time PCR, reverse transcription- PCR, and whole genome sequencing of pathogenic bacteria or viruses. The projects will require a practical knowledge of the basic theories and practices of the scientific area supported as well as some resourcefulness, initiative, and independent judgment. The ideal applicant will have completed a Bachelor’s or Master’s level degree program. Applicants with a Doctorate’s degree will not be considered.

Research will be performed in the development and application of microbiological and molecular assays to address the occurrence of hazards in seafood. Three projects will be supported by awardees of the internships: (1) investigation into the relationship between histamine formation (the main causative agent in scombrotoxin fish poisoning) and histamine-producing bacteria using rapid molecular based methods, (2) determination of variability in norovirus concentrations between individual oysters, and (3) identification of the Vibrio parahaemolyticus O4:K12 outbreak strain from environmental samples from the northeastern US.

Applications will be accepted until April 11, 2014 for the internships starting in mid- to late- May, 2014. Start and end dates are flexible. To apply, please send CV/resume and two letters of reference to Dr. William Burkhardt ( If you are selected for the internship, college transcripts (official or unofficial) and proof of health insurance will be required.

Stipend: $450/ week + relocation assistance (up to $250)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Young Oyster Researcher Growing Up

One of the fun aspects of being part of the Oyster Project is watching the development of the young people; seeing them mature, work in ocean research, head off to college and begin careers

Three years ago Mass Oyster helped a Wellesley College student with her Freshman Science Project. She had interest in oyster restoration and ocean acidification. She looked at oysters and the impact of acidity on their shell weight. As she described it Nicole learned a great deal about experimental design and oysters.

Oyster Scientist Nicole Lobodzinski
Wellesley Senior Nicole Lobodzinski

Nicole is a senior and is now seeking a job, possibly in environmental consulting. She will be meeting with one of our Board Members who is active in the field.

Now the fun part- In the video below she is talking about Cambridge's Front Park with Renata von Tscharner, president of the Charles River Conservancy.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Virginia Oyster Farm Takes Part in Oyster Restoration and Highlights Environmental Benefits

We were impressed with how Virginia's Anderson's Neck Oyster Farm is positioning itself as an environmental enterprise. The website is terrific. 

Anderson's Neck Oyster Company announces that by March 9, 2014 the environmentally friendly small business will have filtered 20 billion gallons of water in the Chesapeake Bay through their oyster farm. You can view the progress towards this goal online at

Oyster Farm quantifes environmental benefit water filtration.
Screenshot of Anderson's Neck Oyster Company's excellent web-page that quantifies the water filtered by their shellfish. 

By nourishing oyster seeds over time, Anderson's Neck has re-created oyster reefs in the form of a modern aquaculture farm, filtering the water in the Chesapeake Bay and the York River, where the oysters grow.

Anderson's Neck founders Michael & Laura Hild said they started Anderson's Neck because, "The Chesapeake Bay is sick.  It's not dead, but [it's] sick. And until you get oysters back in the water to filter it, the Chesapeake Bay will be sick forever."

When English settlers arrived in the 1600s, the waters of the Chesapeake Bay were clear and clean and the bottom of the Bay was covered with oyster reefs.  This created the ideal conditions for oysters to grow and flourish. According to estimates by biologists, when the first English settlers reached the Chesapeake Bay, oysters were filtering the entire Bay about once every four days.  By the late 1900s, the low number of oysters remaining would take almost a year to complete that same process. Not only do oysters suffer in cloudy water, but the sea grasses, which provide food to ducks and shelter to keep predators away from fish and crabs, can't grow.

oyster Grower in support of oyster restoration
Anderson's Neck Oyster Company is committed to recreating oyster beds and harvesting without the use of dredges which disturbs the bottom and destroys plant life.  While the baby oyster seeds grow, they are placed in a protected nursery environment where solar-powered pumps continually push water up and over the oysters.  Once the baby oysters graduate from the nursery, they are placed in a floating cage system that keeps the oysters out of the muck and on the top of the water column where the oyster's food source thrives. Here the cages are worked regularly and the oysters are brought to a large oyster tumbler that cleans the shellfish and helps them form a cuppy shell over time.

The process for oysters to grow takes about 18 months, on average. Since Anderson's Neck began this process in 2010, 20 billion gallons of water will have cycled through their oysters. And with its latest oyster seed planning this year, Anderson's Neck will have placed in excess of 10 million oysters into the York River that would not otherwise be there.

The Hild's recognize that the company's process takes more time and effort. "We're not trying to be the low-cost provider of oysters.  We want to be the crème de la crème. But when people eat an Anderson's Neck oyster, they'll know that it was raised through our blood, sweat and tears using [environmentally friendly] practices right here on the York River."

Anderson's Neck Oyster Company believes that it's not simply enough to responsibly farm oysters.  In an effort to see the natural habitat of the Chesapeake Bay restored, Anderson's Neck has committed to contributing 10% of its profits to the protection and rehabilitation of the Chesapeake Bay habitat, both land and aquatic.  Every Anderson's Neck oyster purchased and consumed means a contribution to the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay.

About Anderson's Neck Oyster Company

Anderson's Neck Oyster Company is proud to bring oysters back to the Upper York River and Chesapeake Bay area. Our passion for the Bay is manifested in the care we take to use sustainable practices throughout every aspect of our operations. Anderson's Neck lies on a two-mile stretch of land along the York River within the land that was granted to Richard Anderson by the king of England in 1662, which covered about 300 acres.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Oyster Restoration in Creating Living Shorelines-- South Carolina Webinar

Webinar on Coastline Restoration and Creating Living Shorelines

March 12 , 2014 2:00pm – 3:00pm (eastern time)

Expanding living shorelines within the ACE Basin National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) to protect habitat and to reduce climate change vulnerability through the application of collaborative science-based habitat restoration.

Presented by: Dr. Peter Kingsley-Smith, South Carolina DNR.

Oyster Castles - substrate for oyster restoration
Oyster Restoration with  Oyster Castles Before and After in South Carolina

Description: In the summer of 2012 the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) was successful in acquiring a substantial 2-year Federal grant from the National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) Science Collaborative funding opportunity. The overall goal of this project is to address the local management problem shoreline loss through erosional processes that are likely to be exacerbated under scenarios of future global climate change-driven sea level rise. 

This project is intended to increase the resiliency of critical ecological communities to climate change-driven sea level rise by creating living shorelines in the form of intertidal oyster reefs (Crassostrea virginica) that restore habitat, reduce erosion, improve water quality, and creating ever-growing, sustainable breakwaters to protect shorelines in an era of sea level rise. 

Abundant wild populations of oysters in South Carolina produce very high rates of recruitment, such that the provision of suitable substrate at intertidal elevations can rapidly lead to the establishment of new oyster reef habitat. Researchers at the SCDNR have a wealth of experience utilizing a variety of both natural and artificial substrates (e.g., shell bags, oyster castles, crab traps, loose shell) and techniques for conducting habitat restoration and enhancement that they have been able to bring to this project through their role as the applied science team. This presentation will highlight stakeholder involvement, site selection processes, reef building achievements and challenges in year 1 and an outline of planned events for the months to come prior to the conclusion of this project in the summer of 2014.
Note: Captioning Services are available for this webinar.
To Register for the Webinar click here!

Trouble registering? Questions? Contact: Marilyn Williams, 304-876-7940 (