Thursday, September 3, 2009

Oyster Gardening

Beczak Environmental Education Center, located on the Yonkers riverfront, is part of the NY/NJ Baykeeper Oyster Restoration Program. In June 2009, six hundred “seed” oysters from Baykeepers’ Governors Island site were resettled in a floating cage hung off a piling in the Hudson River behind Beczak. Fifty of the oysters are in a sample study and kept in a separate cage. Educator Vicky Garufi checks them monthly to report back to NY/NJ Baykeeper. Watch this blog for her updates.

It’s month three of oyster gardening. In July, when our summer interns and I checked on our oysters for the first time, a photographer from Gannett Newspaper was clicking over my shoulder. Nine of the oyster shells were open and empty—telltale signs of a dead oyster.

The August oyster check is more private, just Dorene and I. We put on our waders and walked down to the river. A great blue heron—the first one of the summer—quickly takes flight as we approach the water. Small mud crabs plunge off the wire cage as we haul it out of the water.

Our hands drip with slimy green algae after we carry the oyster cage to the picnic table and pry open the traps. No more have died since last month! We measure the remaining ones with the office ruler. For the most part the oysters do not show much of a growth spurt; at 25 mm to 48 mm they remain close to the same size as the previous month. We pick and flick mud crabs, barnacles and amphipods and other predators from the cage, then wade back into the water to place the oyster cage back on its piling.

Vicky Garufi
Education Program Manager

Find out more about Beczak’s oyster gardening program. Click on these links below.

The oysters arrive
NY/NJ Baykeeper Oyster Restoration Program
Beczak begins oyster gardening press release
“Moving Back Home” Hudson Valley Magazine