There’s no slurping or drinking at this oyster bar.
But it’s a step toward keeping Moriches Bay healthy and clean for future oysters and other sea life, such as mussels, crabs and fluke.
On Wednesday, Brookhaven Town officials, along with other environmental experts and volunteers with the Moriches Bay Project, gathered to announce the town’s first oyster bar, or oyster reef.
It measures about 530 square feet and sits on the bay bottom in East Moriches in what’s called Hart’s Cove at the end of Moriches Island Road.
The reef is made entirely of spent oyster shells from local restaurants.
The shells are stored and dried and used to grow oysters in Moriches Bay and elsewhere with oyster larvae, known as spat, which attaches itself to the shells.
“The purpose is to regrow oysters here in Hart’s Cove,” said Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine. “And we’ve brought this project about in a collaborative effort.”
“Our environment and our economy are tied together, and this project helps both,” said Councilman Dan Panico. “And this isn’t just one thing that we do. We’ve joined together many times on occasions like this to improve water quality by putting oysters and hardshells in our bays.”
The idea comes as part of a 5-year initiative to improve the bays, both Moriches and Shinnecock, where oysters thrived naturally a century ago.
Experts say one oyster can filter 50 gallons of day of water.
“With the installation of this bar, the Moriches Bay Project will have reached its goal of putting 750,000 oysters in the bay this season, filtering over 3.5 million gallons of water every single day,” said Laura Fabrizio, co-founder of the Moriches Bay Project.
The potential success of the oyster bar will be monitored by Cornell researchers, and if the results are good, the town envisions other oyster bars in the bays.
The oyster spat is grown in the town’s hatchery in Mount Sinai.
The program is called Half Shells for Habitat. Follow on Facebook.
Top: Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine (middle, holding sign) and representatives from Cornell, Seatuck, the town, and the Moriches Bay Project Wednesday in East Moriches.