60,000 oysters transferred to North Shore estuaries

Oyster Distribution Ipswich
Mass Oyster Project board member Steve Parkes distributes oysters to their new home in Ipswich. –Courtesy of Mass Oyster Project

The Massachusetts Oyster Project has successfully transferred 60,000 juvenile oysters into local North Shore estuaries to end its first season, according to a press release.

The oysters had been placed in a tank at Maritime Gloucester on Harbor Loop over the summer. Water from Gloucester Harbor was pumped into the tank, called an upweller, where the oysters cleansed the water as they fed on plankton.

After growing from 1-5 millimeters — the size of red pepper flakes — in July to 10-20 mm — the size of dimes and nickels — by November, the oysters were distributed to estuaries in Ipswich, Essex, and Gloucester to continue multiplying and cleaning the water, according to the volunteer organization.

Mass Oyster Project Growth
July 2017 – November 2017: The oysters have grown from the size of red pepper flakes (1-5 mm) to the size of dimes and nickels (10-20 mm). —Courtesy of Mass Oyster Project

An oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day, improving water quality and contributing to more resilient coastal ecosystems, according to the Massachusetts Oyster Project.

The organization estimates over 5,000 students and 20,000 visitors saw the tank at the museum.

Mass Oyster Project Upweller
The upweller and oyster educational program at Maritime Gloucester was available to students and museum visitors throughout the summer. —Courtesy of Mass Oyster Project

“This effort was incredibly successful and we plan to replicate and expand the program in coming years,” Massachusetts Oyster Project President Jennifer Filiault said in a statement.

Mass Oyster Project Essex
Tony Murawski places oysters in a location in Essex. —Courtesy of Mass Oyster Project