Once upon a time, huge underwater reefs made up of tens of thousands of oysters lined our coast. These reefs were ten or twenty feet high and kept the large waves kicked up by Nor'easters from hitting our coasts.
Each oyster on those reefs filtered 50 gallon of water a day, keeping costal waters clear. The reefs were home to plants, which spread and prevented sand and beaches from being swept out to sea. On top of that, the oysters provided a natural filtration which kept coastal water clear. Reefs sheltered hundreds of other species, dramatically increasing biodiversity.
Over time, those reefs were mined out for food or destroyed for convenience.
The Massachusetts Oyster Project is working to restore oyster populations to estuaries around the state. We started this to improve water quality and offset storm run-off pollution, but we found that there were other significant benefits. We are improving fishing by supporting the food chain; 200 other species will live in an oyster reef.
Oyster shells help offset ocean acidification at the local level.
Oyster reefs can also help combat the increased storm surge brought about by climate change.
Over 90% of every dollar we raise goes back into our waters.
We have changed the thinking around Boston Harbor and oysters by confirming that they once were here in vast numbers, and that with a bit of work, they can be again.