The Real Deal New York

Long Island plans to fight flood risks with clam and oyster shells

Apparently there's science backing up the idea
July 14, 2018 03:18PM

(Credit from left: VisitSarasota, Jameson Fink)

By enjoying a plate of oysters at certain Long Island restaurants, you can now truthfully claim you are doing your part to combat climate change.

The logic underlying this seemingly wild assertion is that seafood scraps can help mitigate flood risks and it’s a claim the town of Hempstead has bought into hook, line and sinker, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Here’s how it works: conservationists will be dumping used shells, bundled in mesh bags, into the bay near Lido Beach along with live oysters which will then take up residence in the empty shells and, as part of their natural life, cement their new homes to the eroded reef. In time, the oysters will supposedly create a living reef that will act as a natural barrier to extreme storms, which are becoming more and more frequent and destructive as evidenced by last year’s devastating hurricane season and Hurricane Sandy.

“Oysters cement themselves as part of their life cycles, so they need to attach themselves to a hard substance such as a rock or a shell,” conservation biologist Steve Naham explained to the Journal. “Most of that habitat has been removed from our bay by years and years of dredging and development projects.”

New York’s into the idea–the Department of Environmental Conservation gave Hempstead’s oyster hatchery a $400,000 grant to support the initiative–and local restaurants have agreed to donate their shucked shells. [WSJ]Erin Hudson