How oysters can stop a flood

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And why the world needs more of them.

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In the last century, 85% of the world’s oyster reefs have vanished. And we’re only recently beginning to understand what that’s cost us: While they don’t look incredibly appealing from the shore, oysters are vital to bays and waterways around the world. A single oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water every day. And over time, oysters form incredible reef structures that double as habitats for various species of fish, crabs, and other animals. In their absence, our coastlines have suffered.

Now, several projects from New York to the Gulf of Mexico and Bangladesh are aiming to bring the oysters back. Because not only are oysters vital ecosystems; they can also protect us from the rising oceans by acting as breakwaters, deflecting waves before they hit the shore. It won’t stop the seas from rising - but embracing living shorelines could help protect us from what’s to come.

Note: The headline on this video has been changed.
Previous headline: Why we need more oysters

For more on living shorelines:
https://www.vox.com/2019/6/3/18262182/hurricane-season-2019-storm-protection

More information on the specific ways oysters can restore an ecosystem:
https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/infographic/infographic-value-chesapeake-bay-oyster-habitat
https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/62246ed670914525a84041ad2e13749d
https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/feature-story/oyster-reefs-provide-habitat-and-filter-water-findings-show
https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/61/2/107/242615

Further information on restoration efforts:
https://www.billionoysterproject.org/
https://www.naturebasedsolutionsinitiative.org/news/oyster-reefs-in-bangladesh-and-the-gulf-of-mexico/
https://www.natureaustralia.org.au/what-we-do/our-priorities/oceans/ocean-stories/restoring-shellfish-reefs/oyster-harbour/

Related articles around New York City:
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/05/climate/shinnecock-long-island-climate.html
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/08/09/the-seas-are-rising-could-oysters-protect-us

For more on the history of the oyster boom in New York City we highly recommend “The Big Oyster: History on the Half Shell” https://www.amazon.com/Big-Oyster-History-Half-Shell/dp/0345476395

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