Restoring the Oyster Reefs

Eastchester Bay west of City Island has long been impacted by poor wastewater sanitation, landfill runoff, dredging for shipping channels, erosion, and sedimentation, all of which have prevented the natural restoration of oyster populations. Thanks to the support of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation – Long Island Sound Futures Fund, CIOR embarked on a major research effort to select two sites for constructing oyster reefs from five potential locations that were identified by an extensive survey of existing oyster populations around City Island. CIOR volunteers monitored Oyster Research Stations (ORS), provided by the Billion Oyster Project, at five sites through October 2022, and the data on oyster growth and mortality from the monitoring sessions was used to inform the selection of the two sites, one in City Island Harbor on the east side of the Island overlooked by Pilot Cove Manor and the other on the west side in Eastchester Bay at the end of Ditmars Street. 

In addition, water quality continues to be monitored at four of the original five sites, and divers are mapping the bottom in order to assess possible stressors and threats, such as sedimentation, erosive shoreline, pollution, and the amount of accumulated silt. Now that the two sites have been selected, specially engineered structures will be put in place, and cured shell material will be added in order to promote reef formation. This will eventually increase larvae exchange and connect the various remnant oyster populations.

It is important to note that CIOR reef restoration does not in any way promote the harvesting or consumption of the oysters we are trying to restore, and its goals are strictly limited to improving the environment and enriching biodiversity in the waters surrounding City Island.