In NYC’s ailing estuary, Billion Oyster Project restoring obliterated oyster population

A Billion Oyster Project participant shows a colony of orange sheath tunicates, a type of sea squirt that they often find at their Oyster Research Stations.

Benchmark customer Billion Oyster Project is on a mission to restore the murky New York Harbor one oyster at a time. A single one of these humble mollusks has the power to filter up to 50 gallons of water a day. On top of that, we hurricane-worn New Yorkers should be interested to know that establishing oyster reefs forms a natural storm barrier. So, these aren’t mere oysters, they’re really a whole set of linebackers to keep the next hurricanes at bay from our red zones (With Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Benchmark actually lost an office in Red Hook.)

As BOP explains, “It took less than 100 years for New Yorkers to wipe out the oyster population in NY Harbor. Now, the Billion Oyster Project is rebuilding this important natural resource and habitat.” They are doing it by organizing “field days” where community crews of all ages do oyster installations at sites around the harbor. They engage youth in classrooms on ecology and marine biology and also produced New York Harbor Estuary Species Identification Guide, a book of full-color illustrations shedding light on over 50 of the breathtaking species found down in the harbor waters: oysters, shrimp, sea squirts, and more. Printing with Benchmark, the book is now in its sixth run: 124-page, perfect-bound.

A puffer, as seen on page 47 of BOP’s Species Identification Guide.

BOP’s work is consistent with Goal 14 of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals: “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.” In 2015, the US government as part of 193 member nations of the United Nations committed to realize these 17 goals by 2030.

Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. More about Benchmark’s support for the Sustainable Development Goals.

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