Group Using Oysters to Stop Erosion at Mordecai Island

ReClam the Bay is building the state’s first “living shoreline” at Mordecai Island in Barnegat Bay.
Volunteers Harry Patrick Befumo, Dominic Tumas and Albert Nitche, of the Beach Haven contingent of ReClam the Bay, prepare bags of recycled clam and conch shells covered with oyster larvae, known as spat, for addition to a ‘living shoreline’ in Barnegat Bay. (Photo: Craig Matthews, Atlantic City Press)

(Source: Claire Lowe, Press of Atlantic City)

A group of volunteers are working to save a small island in the Barnegat Bay using recycled clam shells and oyster larvae.

For the last three years, ReClam the Bay has been using old clam shells to grow oysters, then transferring those oysters to the bay, where they are building the state’s first “living shoreline” at Mordecai Island. The 46-acre marsh island that runs parallel to the bay side of Beach Haven is eroding at a rate of 3 to 6 feet per year, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is also in the midst of a wetlands restoration project there.

The 46-acre marsh island is eroding at a rate of 3 to 6 feet per year.

Mordecai Island is home to many species of wildlife, including endangered birds. ReClam the Bay hopes to help stabilize the wetlands through its project.

ReClam the Bay is a grass-roots organization with a focus on education. It was started about a decade ago by a group of people interested in helping save the environment. The name came from Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Ocean County’s phrase: “The best way to reclaim the bay is to re-clam the bay.”

clam and whelk shells with oyster spat
Recyled clam shells and whelk shells covered in spat, or baby oysters, were planted at Tuckerton reef as part of a Stockton University oyster restoration project. (Photo: Craig Matthews, Atlantic City Press)

In addition to its Mordecai Island project, ReClam the Bay works closely with the Barnegat Bay Shellfish Restoration Program to help repopulate the bay with oysters and clams.

“The clams and oysters, we’re growing them here to plant them in the bay,” Duggan said. “It’s called aquaculture.”

On Friday afternoon, Duggan met fellow ReClam the Bay volunteers Albert Nitche, 75, of Beach Haven and Roselle Park, Harry Patrick Befumo, 52, of Beach Haven, and Dominic Tumas, 71, of Beach Haven and Little Egg Harbor, at the old Coast Guard station at Pelham Avenue.

The all-volunteer group gets oyster larvae — about 2.5 million in just a small drop — from the Rutgers University Aquaculture Innovation Center in Cape May, and places them in a 15-by-6-foot tank of water called an upweller. They add several bags of recycled clam and conch shells, giving the larvae three days to attach to the old shells and develop into spat.

Read the Full Atlantic City Press Story  >


Connect with Us

Sign up for email or connect through social media.