The Effects Of Extinction On The Oyster Capital Of The World

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This paper explores the reasons behind the functional extinction of the Eastern Oyster in the New York Harbor, the ecological services that the oyster provided to the Harbor’s ecosystem and the steps to bring back this keystone species. When Europeans first came to the New World, oysters were so abundant around New York City that it was considered the Oyster Capital of the World (Driscoll, 2011) but within 300 years this title would be no more as the oyster became functionally extinct due to overharvesting, dredging and water pollution. Today, scientists aim to bring back at least a billion oysters to these waters through the building of artificial reefs, use of an oyster hatchery on Governor’s Island, and donations of oyster shells by area restaurants (BOP, 2013) and toilets from New York City schools (Schmidt, 2016). To ensure success, implementation of protective measures against poaching (Lipcius, Burke, McCullough, Schreiber, Schulte, Seitz, and Shen, 2015), and use of gray …show more content…
This made New York City, at that time, the Oyster Capital of the World, as its surrounding waters contained over half the world’s oysters (Driscoll, 2011). These oysters were not only food for city residents but served as a keystone species for the Harbor’s ecosystem, cleaning the water and building reefs. These reefs provided habitat for other aquatic species creating what once was the most biologically diverse communities on the planet. They also reduced the force of wave energy (BOP, 2013) which is of particular interest in light of climate change as scientific models show that oyster reefs can help control storm surge and thus, prevent or reduce the type of flooding seen in New York City during Super Storm Sandy in 2012 (Fears,

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