Thursday, November 16, 2006

Gowanus Oyster Gardening

You learn something every day. Today, for instance, in checking out a post about the past weekend's Gowanus Habitats happening at the Brooklyn Lyceum we learned that there's a blog called Gowanus Oyster Garden Stewards. We vaguely knew that people had oysters in the Gowanus from a past boat ride on the Big G with the Urban Divers, although we don't recall the phrase "Gowanus oyster gardening."

In any case, the latest blog entry talks a bit about the Habitat session on Gowanus water quality, which dealt with topics like "technologies for treating contaminated sediment and the complicated issue of dredging...low temperature and high-pressure sediment washing" and "the potential role of nitrogen in the actual breakdown of PCBs." The same post also mentions turning treated sediment into "Bioballs" (we don't want to know). Says the blog, "This potential beneficial use of treated dredge materials was especially exciting for the oyster gardeners in attendance as we learned that the waste of the past could be brought into play as a resource for the future. Bioballs apparently make great oyster and mussel habitat!"

Please note: We are not making fun of the good people working to reintroduce oysters to the Gowanus. We applaud their efforts and their faith in the ability of nature to triumph over man.

The Gowanus oyster gardening effort has been underway for three years and it's part of a collaboration between collaboration between NY/NJ Baykeeper, The River Project and the NY Harbor School. Here's how it's going:
Approximately 1000 Eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) were placed in a 5-tier lantern net on October 26th and monitored for size on October 29th. The net sits on the bottom of the canal; ideally, it should be suspended or floated above the sediment so the oysters don’t suffocate. We are weighing this concern with the visibility drawback of the floating net and the potential of creating an ‘attractive nuisance’.

We were given a great introduction to the materials and methods of oyster gardening by the gardener who attended the training session in October. We took a 'random' sampling of 10 oysters from each tier by removing a handful of oysters from each and picking every 5th one for measurement. Dead oysters were dropped back in the water.

Now that we know about the blog--which has only been around a few weeks--we'll be keeping up with the Gowanus Oysters.


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