Oyster Reef Restoration Project Area, Duck Creek, Wellfleet Harbor, Cape Cod, MA

Wellfleet Harbor

Wellfleet Harbor (Cape Cod, MA) is a unique ecosystem that has centuries-old shellfishing tradition and a growing aquaculture industry of oysters and hard clams. Anamarija Frankić, in collaboration with the Town of Wellfleet, developed the Oyster Propagation Project for the Harbor (Frankić, Report 2012); Frankić, Report 2011-2014; Frankić et al. Report 2015). The project main goal is to enhance the oyster habitat and population in the harbor in order to increase their ecological services and functions, including reduction of nutrients and increase biological diversity. An adult oyster can filter between 30 and 50 gallons (75 liters) of water per day, turning nitrogen into oyster shell, soft tissue, and biodeposits. Based on available research, an average adult oyster can remove between 0.3 to 2.0 g of nitrogen from the water in one year, which includes denitrification process each oyster supports. Thus a healthy oyster reef habitat may support the Town’s need to meet the state-wide nutrient loading goals and improve water quality in the harbor (pl. see Resources for further discussions). Here is our team's presentation at the World Oyster Symposium, Cape Cod, 21-23 October 2015.

Oyster spat on a sea clam shell (Wellfleet, 2013)

This project established a two acre oyster restoration ('water management facility') at the Duck & Mayo Creeks site in the Wellfleet Harbor (download map), with following results:

• in one year the site established settlement of 4 million oysters, expecting to support approximately 2 million additional oysters annually (the goal was to establish 8 million oysters in order to support local water quality)
• increase in commercial shellfish value of $1 million
• 140-200 million gallons of increased water filtration daily, and
• 3,500 pounds of nitrogen sink per year (based on present 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, oyster spat counts and biodiversity assessments twice a month that started in June 2011. 

Our collaboration with Prof. Kristina Hill, and her landscape architecture studio at UC Berkeley, produced students' posters as visions of fully restored oyster reefs and adaptation to local sea level rise, 1, 2, 3. Posters were presented at the World Osyter Symposium, Cape Cod 21-23, 2015.

Frankić's presentation on Biomimicry and oyster restoration, Wellfleet Harbor 

Oyster Project Real Time Water Quality Monitoring

Town of Wellfleet Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan

Anne Cataldo MS thesis: Site Suitability Analysis for Shellfish Spawning Sanctuaries in Wellfleet Harbor, Massachusetts