There are child oysters within the Raritan Bay, and that is cause to rejoice.
Why? A single oyster can filter 50 gallons of water per day, so a rising inhabitants is sweet information for the 108-sq.-mile bay and its chronically polluted waters, which span from Monmouth and Middlesex Counties throughout the state line into New York, close to Staten Island.
Plus the reefs on which these mollusks reside are additionally recognized to be efficient at decreasing storm surge earlier than it reaches shore, appearing as obstacles to melt the blow of massive storms like Superstorm Sandy. No oyster reefs existed within the Raritan through the 2012 storm the place unimpeded storm surge pressured rooftop rescues in Sayreville and elsewhere alongside the bayfront.
Past all of that, oyster reefs create habitats for fish and different sea-life — on this case meaning common sport fish species like striped bass and bluefish, as properly blue crabs and different shellfish on the backside of the bay.
When Henry Hudson explored the area in 1609, oyster reefs have been so ample he reportedly needed to navigate his ship round them. And earlier than the twentieth Century, the mollusks supported a business fishery in Raritan Bay. Within the 1900s, nevertheless, the oyster inhabitants sharply declined as a consequence of overfishing.
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The Matawan-based mostly environmental group NY/NJ Baykeeper has maintained two experimental oyster reefs at Naval Weapons State Earle in Leonardo since 2011. The group provides oysters to the reefs annually in makes an attempt to discern whether or not the species can once more thrive within the bay, and that is the primary time they’ve truly discovered proof that the oysters have been reproducing naturally.
The invention marked an enormous win for the bay and the group’s ongoing efforts to develop wholesome oyster reefs there.
“It exhibits that they’re rising,” stated Meredith Comi, the restoration program director for NY/NJ Baykeeper. “We knew that they have been rising, nevertheless it exhibits that they’re now wholesome sufficient to breed.”
Comi stated that the reefs have created a brand new habitat in a bay that was in any other case mudflats.
“There’s not an entire lot of habitat for fish and different organisms,” Comi stated. “It is barren on the market.”
And with the state’s rising concentrate on coastal resilience since Superstorm Sandy, Comi stated that the reefs supply one other type of safety.
“When one other Superstorm Sandy comes by means of, it will not cease the surge however it’s going to definitely sluggish it down,” Comi stated.
The 2 reefs on the naval station are the one oyster reefs on the New Jersey aspect of Raritan Bay, in response to Comi. Further work has been executed with oyster reefs round Staten Island.
Experimental oyster reefs are usually banned in New Jersey over worries that oysters raised in contaminated waters will by chance find yourself within the meals provide. The NY/NJ Baykeeper experiments are allowed as a result of the Navy has agreed to offer the required enforcement to cease any accidents.
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