Duck creek, Wellfleet Harbor, Oyster Propagation project sampling sites. (Google Earth, A. Frankic)
Wellfleet Harbor (Cape Cod, MA) is a unique ecosystem that is also home to a centuries old shellfishing industry and a growing aquaculture tradition of oysters and hard clams. Tourism and shellfishing comprise the largest income generating activities in Wellfleet.
GHP in collaboration with the Town of Wellfleet and Environmental Partners Group developed the Oyster Propagation Project in the Harbor. The project goal is to enhance the oyster population in the harbor in order to increase their ecosystem service capacity and their ability to reduce the nitrogen content of the harbor's waters. An adult oyster can filter between about 25 and 50 gallons of water a day, turning nitrogen in the water into oyster shell, tissue, and biodeposits. In three years, an average oyster can remove about 1.2 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).
Our project established an approximately two acre oyster restoration ground at the Duck Creek site in the Wellfleet Harbor (download map) and is expected to provide the following benefits:
• approximately 2.5 million additional oysters annually
• potential increase in commercial shellfish value of $1million
• 140 million gallons of increased water filtration daily, and
• 3,500 pounds of nitrogen sink per year.
Therefore, we 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.
Real-time water quality monitoring has resumed for summer 2012!