Problem : Waste, Water
Technology : One oyster can filter up to 1.3 gallons of water an hour. This equates to around sixty two litre bottles of soda a day! Historically oysters in the Chesapeake Bay could filter the entire bay in a week. Now due to overfishing of oysters, it takes nearly a year to do so.
Oysters eat by pumping large volumes of water over their gills through the beating of cilia. Algae, plankton and other particules get trapped in the mucus of the gills. The nutrient rich mucus then travels to the oysters esophagus and stomach to be eaten and digested.
Once digested, the indigestible material is expelled from the anus. The “pseudofeces” are expelled from the oyster’s shell via a rapid closing of valves. The particles form smoke rings which are indication that the water has been filtered.
Currently, a citizen project called the “Billion Oyster Project” aims to restoring one billion live oysters to the NY Harbor by 2030. The project aims to deploy school children in marine restoration based STEM programs.
Stakeholders : With industries and individuals rapidly depleting water quality, oysters are a means to filter water naturally and cheaply. Dirty water effects the entire community reducing accessibility but specifically farmers, business owners and those seeking recreation in the region as well. To Governments, it poses an expensive threat. To the ecosystem, it seems like a great way to restore its services.
Next Steps: To effectively fulfill if not expand the billion oysters project, Governments, schools, NGO’s must educate people on the importance of oysters and engage them in development project. In addition, the Government could sanction a higher budget and growing spaces to repopulate the oyster community. In addition, strictly monitoring and fining over fishing of oysters could also serve as means to conserve the species.