approximately 11.2 million juvenile oysters were released into the Hudson River on Dec. 10, marking the official success of the Tribeca Habitat Enhancement Project, the largest environmental restoration project to date.
This milestone signifies the initiative’s achievement in not only expanding the oyster population, but also in “diversifying the river habitat and supporting local fish species” within the Park’s 400-acre Estuarine Sanctuary, said The Hudson River Park team.
According to Noreen Doyle, the Trust’s President and CEO, the primary goal for the Hudson River Park Trust is to advance environmental preservation and rehabilitate the sub-aquatic ecosystems. In accordance with accomplishing this mission, in July 2021, the Hudson River Park Trust began construction on more than 200 underwater habitats, with financing provided by New York State and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC).
While it may seem strange, the decision to release millions of oysters into the river, alongside hundreds of marine life dwellings, was far from random. This was a deliberate choice made by the park as a result of the enormous ecological value they contribute to an ecosystem.
“They [the oysters] help restore the health of our waterways by filtering the water, and by providing forage and habitat for a wide variety of creatures,” said Senior Habitat Restoration Manager at Riverkeeper, George Jackman. “Along with reducing sewage overflows, adding oyster reefs and other bivalves is one of the best ways to restore the health and maintain the biodiversity of the Hudson River Estuary.”
The Park’s Sanctuary is home to more than 85 species of fish, including American eels, striped bass and lined seahorses, according to their website. Alongside the Estuarine Sanctuary, New York City will be funding the development of a new salt marsh, just north of the Gansevoort Peninsula.
Hudson River Park personnel have dedicated themselves to assessing and evaluating the information generated by these enhancement projects as they will prove invaluable to future restoration decisions, serving as supportive credible data.
An integrated development system will be utilized by the Tribeca Habitat Enhancement Project, where marine life specialists plan to study the gradual changes of the ecosystem, and analyze how the various habitats that were introduced to the subaquatic environment perform.
The Park’s River Project will record the condition of the juvenile oysters as they mature and investigate the impact of the new habitat structures on other estuarine populations.
Results from these programs will hopefully aid the scientific community in better understanding how efforts like these might increase a species diversity and density in critical locations, said the Hudson River Park Trust.
We have gotten to this stage, “in part to the extraordinary collaboration of dedicated partners and key organization agencies committed to improving habitat and water quality in the Estuary,” said Senior Scientist at the Hudson River Foundation, Jim Lodge, “and restoring the legendary New York oyster and its critical ecological functions back to the Hudson River.”