Sunday, August 9

One Billion Oysters: The cleaning of New York City's harbor using oysters and schoolkids

This is a great story from The Wall Street Journal that went viral; within about 60 seconds of its publication, Yahoo and AOL were carrying the WSJ video that accompanies the report.

Oysters, we learn from the video, are a "keystone" species; i.e., one that has a disproportionately big impact on the  ecosystem. In this case, oysters are reef builders that are habitats for several other species..  And a single oyster cleans a gallon of water per minute. So the figuring is that if 1 billion oysters can reintroduced to the NYC harbor, this will keep the waters pristine, and thus the  Billion Oysters Project.

That's only half the story. The video also explains that while 300,000 people work at the harbor, only 12 percent of the workers went to New York City schools. Plus many New Yorkers find it hard to get to the harbor.

Upshot: Many New Yorkers have no emotional connection to the harbor, no proprietary sense about it, no sense of pride about it. Thus,the Billion Oysters Project was launched to involve New York City high school students in helping to place oysters in the harbor, while at the same time teaching them about the many professions involved with marine culture.

Here's how the article starts; visit the site for the video (by the way, I hope WSJ editors are noticing the tremendous reception for this kind of story) :

Harbor Conservation on the Half Shell
by Jeff Bush 
August 9, 2015 - 9:07 PM EDT
The Wall Street Journal

Students, teachers aim to reintroduce one billion oysters to New York Harbor

For marine-biology teacher Jeremy Esposito and a dozen high-school students, class is a floating dock moored just off the shore of Governors Island in New York Harbor.

As the dock rose and fell in the wakes created by passing barges on a recent weekday, two of the students lifted a barnacle-encrusted metal cage from an opening in the dock for Mr. Esposito to examine.

“Barnacles on the gardens is a good sign,” he explained, referring to the metal cages. “It means the water is rich with nutrients.”

Mr. Esposito and his class are part of a harbor-restoration program run by the New York Harbor School called the Billion Oyster Project. One of its main goals is to reintroduce one billion oysters into the harbor by 2035.


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