Introducing: The Tidy Bowl Oyster

News is out today that New York has embarked on a Billion Oyster Project – a fabulous endeavor, speaking as someone who adores fresh oysters. Blue Point please. The neatest technology of the project is that all the receiving beds are made from recycled toilet parts! So maybe now Flushing Queen can be the new hub for ousters???

The Gothamist website is where I tripped across the story, written by Jen Chung. Photos I’ve posted here were taken by NYC Department of Environment Protection.

Below copy from the linked Gothamist story…

The waters around NYC were once packed with oysters, but over harvesting and our growing population—and its considerable sewage—helped make them “functionally extinct.” But now the NYC Department of Environmental Protection is in the midst of planting 50,000 in Jamaica Bay. “This oyster bed will serve multiple purposes—protecting our wetlands from erosion, naturally filtering our water and providing a home for our sea dwellers are just a few,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “More broadly, this oyster bed is a small but necessary step in our broader OneNYC commitment to create a more sustainable and more resilient City.”

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This will be “the largest single installation of breeding oysters,” according to the city. The NYC DEP is working with the Billion Oyster Project and a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Interior (the DEP is kicking in $375,000). From the press release:

The New York/New Jersey Harbor was once blanketed by oysters, but due to over harvesting, dredging and pollution, they became functionally extinct decades ago. Oysters are widely recognized as a key component of a healthy marine ecosystem as they filter pollutants from the water, help to protect wetlands and shoreline from erosion and storm surge, and provide habitat for communities of fish and other aquatic organisms. Once the oyster installation is complete, water quality in the vicinity of the beds will be monitored for anticipated improvements in dissolved oxygen, nitrogen removal and turbidity. In addition, the beds will be evaluated for the recruitment of new oysters…

The installation will include a central donor bed composed of 50,000 adult and spat-on-shell oysters [Ed: um, really? That just ruined my oyster enjoyment, for life!] as well as four smaller receiving beds composed of clam/oyster shell and broken porcelain. The porcelain was harvested from nearly 5,000 inefficient toilets that were recycled from the citywide water conservation program. Having reached reproductive maturity, it is anticipated that the adult oysters will spawn. The resulting fertilized eggs will grow as free-floating larvae in the water column until the young oysters will attach themselves to the shells of the parent oysters on the donor bed or onto any one of the four receiver beds. With successful establishment and recruitment, the donor bed and the receiving beds are anticipated to show a measurable increase in oyster larvae attachment as well as an increase in the growth of mature oysters. Once established, the hope is that the oysters will become self-sustaining, spawning seasonally and providing new recruits.

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My only question: What’s an inefficient toilet???

16 thoughts on “Introducing: The Tidy Bowl Oyster

  1. Terrific idea. Hope it is very successful. Oysters are amazing creatures.
    I love oysters but still can’t bring myself to eat them in months without and ‘r’. Silly, I know but old habits are tough to break. The good news is that it’s SeptembeR.
    The best oysters I’ve ever had were in Damariscotta, Maine and in Sydney, Australia. The former because of the sea salt brininess/sweetness and the latter because they were enjoyed with good friends at a fabulous restaurant at the Opera House. Everything tasted great that night.
    Of course, sitting with a glass of cheap white wine or draft beer at a local bar on dollar oyster night can be a great night out.
    Yay for oysters!

    1. I too go with the R rule of eating oysters. Some things can’t be un-learned, ever.

      Wow, two fabulous places to be, let alone have oysters. The boys went to camp near Damariscotta so I know it well but I never had oysters there, surely because we were only there in the summer months. Never thought of having oysters in Sydney either although I do know, from the years my sister lived there, she’d agree with your assessment about having some of the best oysters on the planet.

      Mr. EOS has only eaten one oyster in his life, with me egging him on at a Newport bar after a few beers. He did it but said it had no taste. Oh well, I tried. In his eyes, all those creatures are bait. I beg to differ.

    1. First of all, how old was the sculptor of the whale tail?? THREE???? That’s the ugliest crudest misshapen tail ever. Then whose idea was it to make it a fountain?? Lord, please tell me it wasn’t city money.
      Last time I was in New London proper was a good dozen years ago, on the campus of Connecticut College, in my day considered one of THE seven sisters. Not so much anymore.

        1. Without looking it up: Bryn Mawr; Holyoke; Smith; Wellesley. Of course, there’s always the transgendered. Bibi

  2. This is a serious environmental issue. The oysters, not the bathroom use of the Whale. Have you ever seen a whale pee?

    Oysters are highly efficient filter feeders, able to process 50 gallons a day of contaminated water into clean water, while maintaining their own health. They remain unfit for human consumption, having sacrificed their little bodies to this dark science.

    Oyster sprat cannot take hold on a mud bottom, so they need spent oyster shell returned to the bottom, or an artificial reef of broken porcelain.

    Vast improvements have been made in flush efficiency and low water use in toilet functionality.

    I would recommend changing out toilets that are over 1.6 liters per flush, or those requiring multiple flushes to come clean. What better use than creating new oyster beds in NY Harbor.

    1. They remain “fit” for human consumption, right? Not “unfit.”

      Which leads me to ponder… I like to eat calf liver but my brother, the biochemist, tells me it’s not such a great idea anymore because the liver is the organ where toxins reside. And there would be a lot more toxins in a beef liver today than 40 years ago — unless you can afford to eat grass-fed. So, this iron-rich food may be suspect. Aren’t we lucky that oysters (cooked for me!) are beneficial to the environment and good to eat?

      1. I grew up eating calves liver. It was regularly served. My mom cooked it smothered in onions and I loved it, on the rare side. I buy it now when I am home alone because no one else will touch it. I imagine, like everything else we eat, there’s a study or two that tells us it’s bad for us. Hey, I say if you don’t eat it every day, go for it. It’s hard to find anymore.

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