Oyster restoration project with monitoring sites, Welfleet Harbor. (Google Earth, A. Frankic)

Oyster restoration project with monitoring sites, Welfleet Harbor. (Google Earth, A. Frankic)

Wellfleet Harbor (Cape Cod, MA) is a unique ecosystem that has a centuries-old shellfishing tradition and a growing aquaculture industry of oysters and hard clams.  Dr. Frankic lead the research project team in collaboration with the Town of Wellfleet and Environmental Partners Group and developed the Oyster Propagation Project for the Harbor. The project goal is to enhance the oyster habitat and population in the harbor in order to increase their ecological service capacity, including reduction of nutrients in the harbor's waters.  An adult oyster can filter between about 30 and 50 gallons of water a day, turning nitrogen in the water into oyster shell, tissue, and biodeposits.  In a year, an average oyster can remove about 1.5 -2.0 g of nitrogen from the water. Thus a healthy oyster reef habitat may support the Town’s need to meet state-wide nutrient loading goals (see Resources for further discussions).

For more information regarding student activity at the site, view our Wellfleet Oyster Restoration blog by Deniz Bertuna and Jesse Bean 

Our project established an approximately two acre oyster restoration ground at the Duck Creek site in the Wellfleet Harbor (download map); we are expecting the following benefits (Frankic  Report 2012):

• in one year the site established 4 million oysters, expecting approximately 2 million additional oysters annually
• potential increase in commercial shellfish value of $1million
• 140-200 million gallons of increased water filtration daily, and
• 3,500 pounds of nitrogen sink per year (based on current scientific knowledge).

We have established a comprehensive monitoring plan using YSI 6600V2-4 unit at the site that measures chlorophyll, blue-green algae, DO, salinity, pH, conductivity, and turbidity (available on line).  Based on the YSI data we hope to gain insight into daily and seasonal water quality changes and to support the project’s additional in situ field monitoring of ground water (two wells), nutrients and oyster spat counts twice a month that started in June 2011.