Billion Oyster Project (BOP) aims to restore 1 billion oysters to New York Harbor over the next 20 years while educating the young people of New York City about their local marine environment.
Oysters are icons of New York’s cultural history and the keystone species of the New York-New Jersey Harbor Estuary. Oyster reefs were the backbone of what was formerly one of the most biodiverse estuaries on the planet. The reefs provide habitat for thousands of species of fish and invertebrates by removing excess nitrogen from the water. Without its oysters, New York Harbor has lost much of its biodiversity.
The students of New York Harbor School, BOP’s flagship institution, have restored more than 16 million oysters. In the process, they have learned scuba diving, raised oyster larvae, operated and maintained vessels, built and run commercial-scale oyster nurseries, designed underwater monitoring equipment, and conducted long-term research projects.
To support the work of growing and restoring oysters, BOP builds reefs, collects and repurposes shells from restaurants, and provides middle school teachers with materials for teaching math and science through the lens of oyster restoration.