Restoring Native Wild Oysters in Cloucester - CBS Boston

Restoring Native Wild Oysters in Cloucester - CBS Boston

GLOUCESTER (CBS) – It happens here in Cloucester – part of Cape Ann, an urban town center surrounded by beautiful beaches, boats and wetlands. Clarence Birdseye was one of the town's more famous residents. The man who sent frozen foods on the table is dinner.

Of course, you can't think of Gloucester without the lifeblood of the city – the fishing industry. There is even a monument built to honor the industry here.

At Gloucester Harbor, the Massachusetts Oyster Project is not harvesting oysters for food. It keeps 60,000 tiny creatures at sea, trying to educate the public about the benefits of restoring the native wild oyster population on our shores.

Sarah Valencik, a volunteer with the Massachusetts Oyster Project, talks to Chris McKinnon, WBZ, about the role of oysters in the ecosystem. (WBZ-TV)

The tiny oysters were still less than 2 and a half months ago when they began to grow in grain size. Most of them now have a tail size and reach almost an inch at the fall when they are sent out in the wild.

The oysters could be small at the moment, but they are really doing a big job – filtering the sea causeway from the port. Fully grown oysters can filter 50 gallons every day.

“They are putting things out that we don't like so much, such as nitrogen, phosphorus. They take things like sediment, bacteria, even pollutants, ”explains Sarah Valencik, a volunteer with the Massachusetts Oyster Project. “They like to accompany each other, and in doing so, provide a house for many other species, as well as protecting our shore from any storm or wave damage.” T

The group also suggest that these oysters do best in a rocky habitat, so they do not compete with other important shellfish industries such as clams, which prefer a sand or muddy house.

These oysters flourished along the coast of Massachusetts, but over-harvesting and water pollution were a discouraging year. They even lived in Boston Harbor, where they could return one day, Valencik said.

Just 2½ months ago, these small oysters (left) were sand grain size, as the oysters are now younger (right). (WBZ-TV)

Today, the Oyster Mass Project is aimed at educating people about the benefits of restoring our native wild oysters. They are working with the state to find areas suitable for reintroduction of the species. Over the past three years, over 200,000 have been released in designated areas in Gloucester, Marblehead and Hyannis. This year, the team released another 200,000.

“We will release our oysters in our inhabitants into the wild. So these three-year-olds are currently living in the wild and have been in the past two years, and are doing their own partners, trying to boost natural populations, ”said Valencik.

They are also showing positive signs. These oysters are released three years ago now about three inches big.

For more information about the Massachusetts Oyster Project or scheduling visit, go to the project website.

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