Photograph by Melissa Rex of The River Project

With its the murky water and long history of pollution, the Hudson River is not a place that most would think of as a suitable habitat for thriving wildlife communities. However, the recent discovery of a massive, shoe-sized oyster may be a sign that efforts taken to clean up the Hudson and revitalize its estuaries, are working.

While working on a pile restoration project at the southeast corner of Pier 40, workers noticed an unfathomably large oyster and turned it over to The River Project, an organization founded in 1986 to “help protect and restore the ecosystem of the Hudson River Estuary through scientific research and education programs.” Measuring almost nine inches long, about the size of a women’s size seven shoe, the oyster is not the largest on record, but it is the largest to be seen in the Hudson River for over a century. It is not uncommon to find wild oysters in the river, but it is rare to find one that has survived long enough, an estimated ten to fifteen years, to get to this size.

Photograph by Melissa Rex of The River Project

Photograph by Melissa Rex of The River Project

According to a representative from the The River Project, Eastern Oysters – the species native to the Atlantic – produce many offspring but only a small proportion survive their larval stage, and very few reach adulthood. Oysters that do make it to adulthood then face the obstacles of predators and disease. The presence of wild oysters in the area, like this one and other large oysters found on a floating dock near Pier 25, “are great pieces of evidence that the Hudson River is more lively beneath the waves than the average New Yorker might suspect.”

Photograph by Melissa Rex of The River Project

The River Project is an original part of Hudson River Park and now occupies an office, storage space, waterfront field station and lab facility at Pier 40. Based on the project’s fourteen years of recorded wildlife data, the underwater area off Manhattan’s west side waterfront has been designated a state estuarine sanctuary.

To learn more about Hudson River Park and the natural history of the Hudson’s estuaries, join us for a special Twentieth Anniversary Tour  with the park’s director of Education and Outreach, Tina Walsh.

If you are or become and Untapped Cities Insider, you can join this tour for free!

Next, check out The Top 10 Secrets of the Hudson River, NYC

 hudson river, Hudson River Park, Oysters, westside

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