In the past six months, 11.2 million juvenile oysters have taken up residence inside the Hudson River, right off the coast of Lower Manhattan, as part of a $1.5 million project designed by the Hudson River Park Trust, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and engineering firm Moffatt and Nichol. Billion Oyster Project, a nonprofit that wishes to seed a billion bivalves in the New York Harbor by 2035, actually sourced the animals.
Fair warning, though: these oysters are not for eating.
The salt-water mollusks, which were once extremely prevalent in New York's waters, will actually work as filters meant to create and purify the environment for marine life to thrive. Researchers will be monitoring the effects of the oysters in their habitats, hoping to also educate the public about the importance of preserving our natural environments.
According to the New York Times, the contraptions left underwater with the oysters inside can be "easily pulled up to show to visitors [to] help people understand the world below the water's surface and to feel invested in protecting it." That's how devoted participating parties are to instilling in people a sense of commitment to our own ecology.
After all, New York was once one of the biggest exporters of oysters in the world, a time during which residents would be able to easily access the food and eat it any which way. Following ecological, environmental and harvesting issues, that is no longer the case. The bivalves actually have a really hard time surviving in our local waters.
The situation seems to be improving, though, and that's in no small part thanks to the millions of oysters that have been placed underwater to work as pollutant cleaners and filter feeders while also controlling storm surges and flood impacts. Clearly, there is much more to the mollusks than their status as high-end, delicious food.