Ecologic Meeting October 29, 2009

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Guest Speaker: Andrew Jay - Massachusetts Oyster Project

Note: Slides from the presentation have been uploaded and are available here.

Founded 2 years ago with the purpose of bringing water cleaning oysters to Boston Harbor

  • One oyster can filter 30 gallons a day
  • Oysters are a keystone species for marine ecosystems
  • Oysters capture nitrogen, algae, and bacteria

Oysters are also planned on being brought to the Charles, Mystic [MA], Chelsea Creek, For Point Channel, Harbor Islands, and other areas to improve water quality, offset run-off pollution, and attract other sea life

Oysters were once abundant in Boston/Mystic Areas but they ran into decline due to:

  • Loss of habitat
  • Misuse
  • River subjugation
  • Pollution
  • Over-harvesting

“Oyster reefs are the coral reefs of the North”

Oyster Reefs

  • Have 50 times the surface area of flat bottom
  • Home to over 100 other species including anemones, mussels, eels, shrimp, and even lobsters
  • Cleaner water helpful for eelgrass a key plant in the harbor ecosystem
  • Areas with oysters have 3 times as much fish than in areas that don’t

Boston Harbor used to be very polluted and although it has gotten clearer due to the Deer Island Treatment Plant, there is still waste entering the harbor

  • Sewage overflow goes straight into the harbor
  • Treating the water isn’t completely effective
  • Oysters might be able to help

Protected sites are needed because we need to ensure they’re not harvested and we don’t know how many oysters it takes to make a breeding population Plan 2008

  • Identified site on Charles River
  • Obtain approval Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries
  • Obtain blessing of Boston Conservation Commission
  • Raise $12,000
  • Dispersal Fall 2008
    • 100,000 seed oysters (but managed to get an extra 50,000 seed oysters)
  • Establish test population
  • Monitor Growth

New York has a similar program but why doesn’t Boston? Placement Results

  • 6 months after initial placement (after winter) 50% survival rate, which is good for 1st year
  • Silt buried a lot of the oysters that year - it is a persistent problem in Boston Harbor
  • Scallops have made a return to Boston Harbor

Lessons from Pilot

  • Oysters could survive winter
  • Oysters can grow
  • Need to keep them out of the silt
  • Have not yet shown reproduction
    • More oysters? More time?

Proposed Plan 2009

  • Monitor success/failure of Charles pilot
    • 20% survival - No sign of reproduction
  • Oysters placed in 3 new locations
    • Less oysters, better placement

Mass Oyster Project is 100% volunteer

To Learn more - go to Massachusetts Oyster Project


Solar Decathlon meeting tomorrow (10/30) at 8:00 a.m.

Saturday (10/31) - Pumpkin Picking

  • Meet in the EEC at noon

Troy Bike Rescue - Mondays and Wednesdays 5-8 p.m.

  • E-mail Jay Walker ( if interested in volunteering