On Thursday, September 27, 2018, LREI middle school students traveled to Pier 40 to participate in the Billion Oyster Project (BOP).
BOP is an initiative of the New York Harbor Foundation. The primary objective of the project is to restore 1B live oysters, while engaging thousands of students through STEM education. LREI is proud to be one of many independent schools to join in these collaborative efforts.
Oysters are vital to our ecosystem as filter feeders, as just a single oyster is capable of cleaning one gallon of water per hour. Oysters are functionally extinct in the Harbor as a result of over-harvesting, dredging, and pollution. If oyster numbers were to return to previous highs, the entire volume of water that makes up the Pier would be cleaned once every three days. With the help of our students, BOP aims to make this restoration a reality.
LREI middle school students immersed themselves by examining the oyster habitat and studying water quality, oyster size, other organisms and ocean conditions. While learning about reintroducing populations and how the oyster's lifecycle works, our students engaged in science to analyze how the oysters are progressing and how their environment is changing over time. The data collected from the oysters will be sent directly to the BOP, and will be aggregated along with data from all over the city to give the project a clear view of how the restoration project is progressing.
Interesting Facts: When Henry Hudson entered New York Harbor in 1609, he had to navigate the Half Moon around 220,000 acres of oyster reefs, which had sustained the local Lenape people for generations. The pristine estuary, with oysters at the base, hosted thousands of associated species and was one the most biologically productive, diverse, and dynamic environments on the planet. However, by 1906, New Yorkers had eaten every oyster, reefs were dredged up or covered in silt, and the water quality was too poor for regeneration of oysters. The Harbor was toxic and nearly lifeless for more than 50 years until the passage of the Clean Water Act (1972) which prohibited dumping of waste and raw sewage into the Harbor.
By 2035, one billion live oysters will be distributed around 100 acres of reefs, making the Harbor once again the most productive waterbody in the North Atlantic and reclaiming its title as the oyster capital of the world.
For more information about the Billion Oyster Project, please visit billionoysterproject.org
or click here