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These Bronx oysters are prized for their ability to filter pollutants and anchor a marine ecosystem with their craggy reefs. “They’re ecological engineers,” In Bronx River, Helping Oysters Stage Comeback - NYTimes.com

In Bronx River, Helping Oysters Stage Comeback - NYTimes.com

n Bronx River, Helping Oysters Stage Comeback


Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times
Michael Abegg, with the New York Harbor School  and a student, Luis Negron, in background, putting oysters into a reef in the Bronx River.


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"Not much lived in the Bronx River in the 1970s, when it was tainted with toxic chemicals and human waste and choked by abandoned cars dumped into its waters.

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The oyster did.
Oysters clung tenaciously to tires here and there, a tiny remnant of the vast oyster reefs that once thrived in New York City’s waterways and nourished natives and settlers alike. Now after decades of cleanup efforts in the river, the oyster has emerged as a tangible measure of how much more needs to be done to return the river closer to its natural state.
A one-acre oyster reef has been created in the river just off the shore of Soundview Park in the South Bronx — one of the largest oyster restoration projects in the city. On Saturday, students from the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School relocated about 100,000 farm-raised baby oysters, known as spat-on-shell, to the reef, which was made this summer by piling 100 tons of empty shells on the river’s muddy bottom.
These Bronx oysters are not destined for the dinner plate or coveted as a source of pearls, but instead are prized for their ability to filter pollutants and anchor a marine ecosystem with their craggy reefs.
“They’re ecological engineers,” said Dennis Suszkowski, science director of the Hudson River Foundation in Lower Manhattan, which is overseeing the oyster reef in the Bronx River. “Oysters will grow on top of one another and create a three-dimensional habitat with all sorts of nook and crannies for fish to feed and use as shelter. It’s the kind of habitat that was once here that is no longer here.”
The project builds upon more than a decade of painstaking oyster research and experimentation in the New York region," READ MUCH MORE - WHAT A FANTASTIC STORY!
A picture caption on Tuesday with an article about a reef created in the Bronx River as part of an oyster restoration project misidentified one of the people shown putting oysters into the reef. He is Michael Abegg, with the New York Harbor School — not Pete Malinowski, a teacher who oversees the school’s oyster program.