New York City Is Building a Wall of Oysters to Fend Off Floods

Bloomberg: Thousands of acres of undersea reefs once protected the city’s shoreline. Now an army of volunteers is bringing the bivalves back, one shell at a time. 

A row of plastic bins sits in a gravel lot next to Brooklyn’s Domino Park promenade; each holds small pieces of New York City’s more climate-proof future. 

They’re full of oyster shells, leftovers collected from the plates of patrons at more than 45 New York restaurants. Every week, a truck drops the shells at a Greenpoint processing site. (Any ordinary oyster-eater can drop off shells, too.) Then the discards — 1.8 million pounds of them to date — are cleaned, cured in the sun and “set” with microscopic larvae. Redeployed in bags all around the city’s waters, the recycled shells serve as a home for baby oysters to grow on, ultimately building a reef that can soften the blow of big waves, ease erosion, and help prevent coastal flooding from rising seas.

That’s one of the many hopeful hypotheses of the Billion Oyster Project. Founded in 2014 by the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School on Governors Island, the nonprofit partners with local restaurants, schools and volunteers who aim to establish an army of oysters in New York Harbor by 2035.

A row of plastic bins sits in a gravel lot next to Brooklyn’s Domino Park promenade; each holds small pieces of New York City’s more climate-proof future. 

They’re full of oyster shells, leftovers collected from the plates of patrons at more than 45 New York restaurants. Every week, a truck drops the shells at a Greenpoint processing site. (Any ordinary oyster-eater can drop off shells, too.) Then the discards — 1.8 million pounds of them to date — are cleaned, cured in the sun and “set” with microscopic larvae. Redeployed in bags all around the city’s waters, the recycled shells serve as a home for baby oysters to grow on, ultimately building a reef that can soften the blow of big waves, ease erosion, and help prevent coastal flooding from rising seas.

That’s one of the many hopeful hypotheses of the Billion Oyster Project. Founded in 2014 by the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School on Governors Island, the nonprofit partners with local restaurants, schools and volunteers who aim to establish an army of oysters in New York Harbor by 2035. Read more>>