Environmentalists with the New York/New Jersey Baykeeper program will deploy a million oysters at Naval Weapons Station Earle in Monmouth County Tuesday.

The Baykeeper group's director of restoration, Meredith Comi, said the oysters are being deployed in concrete "castles" that will help nurture their future development.

"Think of it as our version of the coral reef," she said. "You have homes and protection for all kinds of critters. Recently, people have been looking to restore the oyster reef as a way to protect the shorelines, which has really been gaining a lot of momentum since Superstorm Sandy especially. Everybody here in New Jersey knows what damage that did."

Comi said oyster over-harvesting and rampant shore development necessitated the restoration.

Oysters filter the water as they feed, and their reefs provided habitat for a number of species in estuaries," she said.

The oysters used for replenishment are first grown in tanks, then brought to the reef when they're old enough.

"My program assistant will go down and put these on the bay bottom, making pyramids, and we're adding on to work that we've done the past two years — so there's already quite a bit out there and every summer we add on more," Comi said.

 

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