8. There Are Oyster Cages Around the Ellis Island Hospital Complex
The history of New York City’s oysters is a tragic one. Dredging, pollution, and overharvesting throughout the last four centuries have almost entirely decimated New York’s oyster supply, which once counted 220,000 acres of oyster beds. Improbably, given the city-wide partnerships for oyster restoration, there is once again hope for the reefs.
The Billion Oyster Project began in 2012 and hopes to restore one billion oysters to New York Harbor by 2030. To accomplish this lofty goal, it hosts educational activities, restaurant recycling initiatives, and other related programs throughout the city. To date, the initiative has returned around 20 million oysters to the harbor, primarily around Governor’s Island and at the mouth of the Bronx River. Untapped Cities guide Mandy Edgecombe also tells us that there some cages for oyster babies located on the south side of Ellis Island. The location makes sense since the island used to be home to large oyster beds, which served as an important source of food for Native Americans. In fact, the Dutch once called Ellis Island the Little Oyster Island and Liberty Island the Great Oyster Island.
As another extension of its programming, the Billion Oyster Project also partners with the New York Harbor School, a public maritime high school that instills the “ethics of environmental stewardship and the skills associated with careers on the water.”