You may have seen the news earlier this year, and I was remiss in not talking about it when it was happening, but wild oysters are functionally extinct. This news, of course, is terribly depressing.
I’m a New Yorker, and New Yorkers have a history with oysters. In fact, there’s a whole book about the relationship between NYC and oysters. They thrived here, they fed us, now they’re decimated. But as is the way of New Yorkers, we are hustlers and we don’t give up on things easily.
A recent TED talk gives some big ideas regarding oysters and rehabilitating the malodorous superfund site also known as the Gowanus Canal. Incidentally, if you’re ever in Brooklyn and looking to get a beer, the hilariously named Gowanus Yacht Club is a great place to go. This video is well worth watching. It’s an awesome vision into the not-too-distant future, and it’s not made of space-age materials and mythical power sources; they knitted some yarn and built reefs for oysters, in turn cleaning up the waterway, increasing biodiverity, and building shelter from waves. Refreshingly doable.
So doable, in fact, that it’s happening on a smaller scale right now. The River Project is inviting citizens to become oyster gardeners in the Hudson. If I can figure out how to find a safe spot on the stretch of Hudson nearest to me, you can bet I will be farming some oysters!
Perhaps my favorite thing I learned from the video is that baby oysters are called spats. Here’s what spats look like.
(photo: Lousiana Sea Grant College Program)
These of course aren’t the only spats you can see in and around New York. Come for the St. Patrick’s Day parade and you can see some of these:
(photo: Alan Strakey)