10-year Oyster Reef Effort Coming To Lake Montauk

The 100,000 oysters were grown at the Cornell Cooperative Extension Marine Program hatchery in Southold and then placed along the banks of Gurney's Star Island Yacht Club.

Lake Montauk got an influx of 100,000 new oysters along its shores last week from the Cornell Cooperative Extension Marine Program, as part of a water quality improvement effort organized and funded by the Concerned Citizens of Montauk and Gurney’s Star Island Resort & Marina.

The new oysters will be the foundation of a growing “oyster reef” that the three groups plan to gradually expand over the next 10 years along the edge of the channel just off the Gurney’s marina.

A single oyster can filter nutrients and algae from as much as 50 gallons of water each day and Cornell’s shellfish hatchery program in Southold has been the anchor of effort throughout the East End to use the release of millions of shellfish into bays and harbors to combat poor water quality.

“I cannot wait to see how this project develops and expands over they years,” CCOM president Laura Tooman said of the oyster reef.

The oysters deposited off the yacht club last week were tiny juveniles known as “spat” that had been grown by Cornell marine biologists on the cracked shells of dead adult oysters.

The old shells will give the young oysters a solid foundation on which to grow to maturity.
The Gurney’s yacht club also partners with CCOM and Cornell on a kids environmental education program and as the base of two “FLUPSY” in-water shellfish growing cages, where clams and oysters are cultivated in cages tethered to the marina’s docks and flushed with circulated water by an upwelling system.

“With maritime culture being an integral part of our DNA, we aim to thoughtfully engage in sustainable practices within water quality, habitat, aquaculture,” Gurney’s Resorts owner George Filopoulos said in a statement about the oyster reef program. “We are honored to once again collaborate with CCE to support the marine environment and educate our guests about the importance of protecting our waters.”