In an effort to bring back oysters to the once plentiful Jamaica Bay, New York City installs beds made out of recycled toilets to serve as nurseries for oyster larvae to grow on. Elly Park reports.
STORY: It's an un-wasteful effort to bring back the oyster to the waters of New York. Porcelain from recycled toilets mixed with clam shells are getting dumped into Jamaica Bay where the species has been extinct for decades. The materials will form a nursery bed for oyster larvae to grow on, explains John McLaughlin, of the city's Department of Environmental Protection. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, MANAGING DIRECTOR, NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION, SAYING: "Those are receiver beds that is just a blank slate that is about 8,000 square feet on the bottom. Then there is a donor reef." The department installed a so called "donor reef" nearby with 50,000 adult oysters whose offspring hopefully will latch on to the nursery reef. And building the nursery out of discarded toilets was an eco-friendly choice. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, MANAGING DIRECTOR, NEW YORK CITY DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION, SAYING: "There are some papers that indicate that crushed porcelain is very similar to its qualities in attracting oyster larvae as clam shells and oyster shells. So instead of placing this material into a landfill we decided to put it to a good use, and it's a resource here." While oysters are a key component of a healthy marine ecosystem, studies say 85 percent of oyster reefs have been lost around the world. Pete Malinowski of the Billion Oyster Project, a partner in the restoration effort, explains. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PETE MALINOWSKI, DIRECTOR, BILLION OYSTER PROJECT, SAYING: "Oyster reefs provide a lot of the same services that coral reefs do. They filter the water, provide food and habitat for other animals, they stabilize the bottom, they increase water clarity and they can stabilize the shoreline." Once everything is installed, water quality will be monitored to test the reef's filtering capacities, as an adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day. To flush out future foragers, the department stresses that the oysters are not for human consumption.