Green Harbors Project

at the University of Massachusetts Boston

Wellfleet Harbor

Oyster reef restoration project area, Duck Creek, Wellfleet Harbor, Cape Cod, MA
Oyster restoration project with monitoring sites, Wellfleet Harbor. (Google Earth, A. Frankić)

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). 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 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 the state-wide nutrient loading goals and improve water quality in the harbor (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 

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

Our project established a two acre oyster restoration ground at the Duck Creek site in the Wellfleet Harbor (download map), with following results:

• in one year the site established 4 million oysters, expecting to support approximately 2 million additional oysters annually
• potential 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 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, oyster spat counts and biodiversity assessments twice a month that started in June 2011. 

Anamarija Frankić's presentation on Biomimicry and oyster restoration at 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