Bivalves: Great Things From Small Beginnings

Great Things From Small Beginnings

             Bivalves such as clams, oysters, mussels, and scallops are amazing filter feeders that help keep harmful algae in check. Oysters, the main focus of the Coastal Habitat Restoration Project (CHRP) start out as larvae, so small that they are invisible to the naked eye. In about a year, they can grow to one to one and one-half inches. One adult oyster can filter 50 gallons of water per day. This allows marsh grasses to grow, which in turn holds the shoreline together with their extensive root structure.

Living Shorelines

             The process of revitalizing the 'old hatchery' the CHRP team has built a temporary hoop house that is used to store and grow Shinnecock oysters. The oysters then will be taken and put on shells this process is called "spat on shells". The oysters and shells then will be taken to Cuffee's beach where it will be place in the water to form a oyster reef. By creating a living shoreline with bivalves is cost effective it is potentially valuable tool for protecting coastal community like Shinnecock.


The benefits of these living shoreline is three-fold: they help prevent erosion for wild life and public recreational use; buffer coastal communities against impacts from future storms, storm surges and hurricanes; and provide habitat for underwater species in the face of climate change and sea-level rise.

A Historic Milestone, A Path to the Future

             CHRP’s spawned is the first on territory spawn in thirty years. Over a million oysters have been grown and the team is even attempting to grow algae; It's a trial and error process, but our continued efforts will keep the oysters growing and moving forward.

With the help of Cornell Cooperative, the CHRP team has been working diligently on this operation, with the vision of restoring an old tradition while also restoring Shinnecock Bay to even better health.


To keep up withCoastal Habitat Restoration Project news, including videos and presentations, check out theShinnecock Environmental Department News ‘s Coastal Habitat Restoration Project section at