An unexpected find of a healthy, well-established oyster reef tucked away in a shoreline park inspired UConn Marine Science researcher Zofia Baumann to study ways to help these vital ecosystem engineers make a comeback.
Oyster habitats were largely destroyed by development, over-harvesting, and pollution, but in Long Island Sound their numbers might be on the rise. Baumann and others hope to help restore Connecticut’s oyster populations.
Oysters build habitats where many species flourish, they improve water quality and make shorelines more resilient to erosion, but they need old shells to start building on. The site that became the focus of the project is one where oyster shells were deposited. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of shells in Connecticut and addressing this problem is the primary goal.
The project brings together members of the community, shellfish farmers, and regulators, as Baumann says, this effort relies on the community, otherwise, it will not work.