Friday, August 6, 2010

Volunteers Needed For Oyster Restoration on August 16

NJ Audubon's Nature Center of Cape May The Cousteau Center at Bridgeton is seeking volunteers on August 16, 2010 to assist with the Project PORTS (Promoting Oyster Restoration through Schools) project.

Project PORTS is a community-based restoration project that engages school children in activities associated with the enhancement of oyster habitat at the Gandy's Beach Oyster Restoration Enhancement Area.

shells with spat
Students construct shell bags, which are deployed in the bay to become a settlement surface, and home to millions of young oysters. Participating schools, PORTS Partner Schools, receive a truckload of clam shells, which are placed in stretchy mesh bags by students on site at the school. The bags are then transported to a lower Bay Cape Shore site where they are deployed for two months in the summer to capture the settling oysters known as spat.

The oyster spat and shell are transplanted to the upper Bay Gandy's Beach location will they will remain to grow, thrive, and provide important ecological benefits to the Bay ecosystem.

This work complements the State and Federal fishery-centered restoration efforts and demonstrates a way that local citizens can invest in the Delaware Bay and feel a personal commitment for its stewardship.

This year students at partner schools constructed 2700 shell bags. The shell bags were placed in the lower Bay in late June and have since been collecting thousands, if not millions of oyster spat.

These young oysters will be transplanted to upper bay conservation and fishery areas on August 16.

PORTS needs at least 30 volunteers on August 15 and 16 to help prepare and load the bags onto skiffs for transport.

Mature oyster
The eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica is one of, if not the most important species of the Delaware Estuary.

Dating back thousands of years, the oyster has served as a keystone organism in the estuary, positively influencing water quality and providing food, habitat, and refuge to countless organisms. Challenged by disease, habitat deterioration, and overfishing, the resource is presently a fraction of what it once was.

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