Imagine New York Harbor as one of the most dynamic environments on the planet. It once was. The Billion Oyster Project believes that together, we can revive our shared blue space, creating a healthier, happier, and more resilient city—one oyster reef at a time.
The Billion Oyster Projects’ mission is to restore oyster reefs to New York Harbor through public education initiatives
A future in which New York Harbor is the center of a rich, diverse, and abundant estuary. The communities that surround this complex ecosystem have helped construct it, and in return benefit from it, with endless opportunities for work, education, and recreation. The harbor is a world-class public space, well used and well cared for—our Commons.
Oysters have a remarkable ability to filter nitrogen pollution from water as they eat. This is a heroic feat, because excessive nitrogen triggers algal blooms that deplete the water of oxygen and create “dead zones.”
“Once all but extinct in New York City’s waters, the whales are undeniably back.” –Popular Science Oysters play a key role in attracting life. They earn their nickname as “ecosystem engineers” because we see biodiversity levels increase dramatically surrounding oyster reefs.
Oyster reefs can help to protect New York City from storm damage—softening the blow of large waves, reducing flooding, and preventing erosion.
Restoring oysters and reefs will, over time, restore the local marine ecosystem’s natural mechanisms for maintaining itself, resulting in cleaner water and greater biodiversity.
How They Do It
The hands-on science of reef construction and monitoring is executed through community oysters reefs, in-school restoration-based STEM learning opportunities, volunteer programs, community science and research, and restaurant shell collection. New York Harbor School, a maritime high-school located on Governors Island, is the flagship school of the Billion Oyster Project, and its students contribute to Billion Oyster Project as part of their Career and Technical Education (CTE) experience—growing oysters, designing and building oyster reef structures, diving to monitor reefs, operating boats, performing marine biology research, and more.