Solar Powered Reef Keeping Oysters in East Coast Waters

oyster shells photo

Photo via beccaxsos

Oysters are disappearing from New York City’s waterways due to pollution, overharvesting and disease. But creative thinker James Cervino has come up with an interesting way to get them to return home and thrive.

He’s created a solar-powered electric oyster reef - a set of spiral-shaped metal bands that use the sun to charge up and create a chemical reaction in the water that seems to make oysters quite happy to call the reef home. The metal spirals have solar panels attached to the top which helps generate an electric current. The current causes a chemical reaction in the sea water which causes limestone to build up on the metal. The mineral-rich build is enjoyed by the oysters and helps them to live happily on the metal bars.

Cervino's collaborator, Thomas Goreau, president of the Global Coral Reef Alliance, has shown that electrification can help damaged coral reefs regenerate. It seems to be helping the oysters here as well, he says. Oysters in mesh sacks at the spirals' base are alive while control oysters - those farther from the electric field - have all died.

A return of the oysters would help clean up the waterways, since oysters are excellent water filterers.

This project is part of a larger movement along the East Coast and elsewhere to restore ecosystems drastically altered by human activity. Restoration almost invariably begins with so-called keystone species, the humble filter feeders once so numerous along the eastern seaboard that they cleaned entire bays within days. Their importance as a species stems from their ability to filter large amounts of water. Depending on its size, an oyster filters between 5 and 50 gallons of water daily. Water now murky with algae and other organic matter was, in earlier times, almost certainly clear.

With the limestone providing minerals to form their shells, the oysters have a much better chance of rebuilding reefs and eventually using the shells of previsous generations of oysters as food.

This is a very cool way to use solar power to revive a species and regenerate an ecosystem.

Via ABC News
More on Oysters:
Increasingly Acidified Waters Could Prompt Mass Shellfish Dissolution
More on Caring for Ecosystems:
Coastal Habitats Deemed Planet's Most Imperiled Ecosystems
Responding to Ecosystem Degradation
Ecosystems Have Rights Too

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