The oyster garden is the backbone of most off-bottom oyster aquaculture and was for the Moriches Bay Project for years. ‘Off-bottom’ refers to a style of plastic, porous, cages with plastic or foam floats that allow oysters to be suspended off the bottom of the bay. The cages are arranged on long lines that run side by side like cornrows in a field.
Oysters floating near the top of the water column have a better chance of survival since they are suspended high up and away from predators like crabs and oyster drills. They are removed from the danger of sinking into soft muddy sediment and receive more oxygen and food from photosynthetic algae near the surface.
The F.L.U.P.S.Y. or Floating Upwelling System is the projects’ newest addition to the shellfish program. The FLUPSY is a shellfish growing machine.
Typically built like a rectangular floating dock, the FLUPSY is able to grow up to 500,000 shellfish in a season by holding large amounts of shellfish in containment barrels suspended off the bay bottom.
Then with a series of pipes and a pump, it is able to draw nutrient-rich water from the depths and pass it rapidly over the shellfish’s gills. The shellfish even become slightly suspended in the barrels due to the flow which allows them to grow at intensified rates.
When trying to substantially increase the production of shellfish to be placed in Moriches Bay, there is no greater asset to the Moriches Bay Project than the FLUPSY.
Brookhaven Town, in partnership with the Moriches Bay Project, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, and the Seatuck Environmental Association created a small-scale oyster reef in Moriches Bay off of East Moriches. The reef, created with aged shells and live oysters, measures 530 square feet and is being monitored over a five-year period for oyster growth and survival, as well as the presence of other animals and plants living on the reef compared to the nearby sandy bottom.
Oyster reefs provide a superior substrate for a wider range of species than the bare sandy bottom. It provides protection for the reproduction of fish, crustaceans, worms, snails, as well as other marine plants and animals. These organisms in turn provide a source of food for those fish not necessarily attracted or able to live in the structured habitat.
We are thrilled to announce that in late 2021, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County was monitoring the Moriches Bay Project Oyster Bar (reef) in Brookhaven Town and found a juvenile oyster that was probably spawned last year and two species of seaweed plus an adorable squirrel fish from the South. This is such exciting news and progress showing that the reef is creating a habitat for many species.
Oyster Gardening Programs
In 2021 we proudly partnered with longtime friend Michael Schermeyer who create the BAY BOX which is constructed from natural woods that make the product buoyant, lightweight, durable, and well suited to withstand the weather and water action of the bays.
The Boxes are custom made to order so the size and slat spacing can be adjusted to best accommodate the type of aquaculture that will be raised or stored in them.
If you would like to learn more please contact Michael at firstname.lastname@example.org.