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Why New York is bracing for big storms with oysters |Climate Change

 

Why New York is bracing for big storms with oysters | Mission Ahead


what if I told to you that over years ago some of the best oysters in the world were being harvested here when Europeans first arrived in New York Harbor moister reefs everywhere acres of oyster reef they were once a big part of the culture of New York for the food culture of New York boisterous used to be sold on basically like hot dog carts what happened to them we ate them early New York boomed on an oyster economy but it turns out these oyster reefs had a much more important role as our oceans get warmer and sea levels continue to rise scientists expect future hurricanes to be bigger and more powerful we had tragedy happen in superstorm sandy people lost their lives there were waves hitting structures because this rich 3d mosaic of protected wetlands is no longer there thats something a team of designers and engineers are trying to solve funded by a federal disaster relief grant and designed by scape a landscape architecture firm the living breakwaters project is meant to safeguard part of New York Citys coastline its a roughly mile long chain of breakwaters that are designed in an ecological way to create fish habitat it is reducing risk and the incredible wave action that was faced by communities and a major component of the project is the small and briny oyster oysters our ecosystem engineers in the harbor they help Ill go on right and create reefs they filter water they clean water the oyster reefs actually reduce the impact of storms and storm surges and things like that when you had a complex threedimensional shoreline that is both oyster reefs and salt marsh and all of that working together in other words before New Yorkers polluted and over harvested their Harbor oyster reefs used to provide a natural protection against big waves like the ones produced by Hurricane sandy without the oyster reefs and with you did the whole shoreline has fundamentally changed New York is more vulnerable to storms thats why since the nonprofit billion oyster project has been working to restore the citys oyster reefs the group s by collecting restaurants discarded oyster shells drying them and then seating them with oyster larvae once back in the water those shells become the habitat for other to build on so far about million oysters have been installed in various sites around the harbor and while the water quality of the harbor has improved the number of oysters in the water is only a tiny portion of what it used to be and theyre still not safe to eat but something recently changed for restoration to be successful you need the recruitment of wild oysters from the system meaning wild baby oysters need to be able to find these reef installations in order to latch on and establish a home for themselves thats something weve seen in very small numbers periodically over the years so we ed looking at earnest at all of our sites around the city and its true for just about everywhere we have oysters this year theres just a lot more natural recruitment thats so cool so thats a really exciting sign a largescale arrival of wild baby oysters is good news for the living breakwaters project oysters are not going to keep the water out of New York but boy stirs that combined with breakwaters can be an integrated solution these breakwaters are seeded with oysters and the oysters will agglomerate on the structure attached on to it grow and form their own kind of layer of complexity on top its also a social enterprise in the sense that were engaging schoolchildren and teachers through the billion oyster project so these guys are basically forming a reef right theyre building more and more structure the living breakwaters project will be in construction through but rebuilding an entire ecosystem can take time or thinks that by the habitats around the breakwaters will be fully revitalized I think New Yorkers need to get into this new paradigm of being a coastal city again living with water embracing our watery con not fortifying ourselves off but but understanding what it means to live with this kind of risk and really preparing for it being smart about it Music you Music '
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