New York’s Coolest Summer Volunteer Days? The Billion Oyster Project’s, Of Course

If you like oysters or food, or care about conservation or science or New York City Harbor for that matter, here’s something for your bucket list: Billion Oyster Project (BOP) Volunteer Days. As a Foundation that cares about all of the above, we can assure you that it does not disappoint.

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BOP Volunteers from Moore Charitable and Waterkeeper Alliance. A great day on Governor’s Island!

Yesterday, The Moore Charitable Foundation team and our summer interns spent the day on Governor’s Island, along with volunteers (and friends!) from Waterkeeper Alliance, first touring the New York Harbor School’s oyster hatchery and new math & science facility. Then we got down and dirty – working in the hatchery and building wire cages for the growing BOP oysters to be placed in the harbor.


BOP oysters thrive in conditions that simulate their natural environment – but do even better when placed on a healthy reef. 

The BOP matches their hatchery to the natural conditions (a.k.a., the oyster reefs in the New York Harbor) in order to best prepare the oysters for life on their own once placed in the wild. Simulating these natural conditions for the growing oysters helps to increase their resilience and survival rates once on the reef – and fortifying the reef is the name of game, as this complex ecosystem provides increased protections for each individual oyster and speeds up the spawning process rate, which in turn enhances the population. A little known fact: the sex of an oyster cannot be determined until it spawns, and reefs ensure that both male and female oysters are in the same vicinity when spawning occurs.

BOP has recently obtained a large new boat which will be used for placement of these oysters into the harbor and are preparing for a big placement project in the next few days.  The goal is to create reefs in all 5 boroughs of Manhattan, and BOP staff are working hard to prep all the materials – including the cages we built – needed to get this project underway. These volunteer days help BOP get even closer to their goal.

The energy at the Harbor School is palpable, and it’s not hard to see that BOP reach and influence is spreading like wildfire throughout the city. The number of partner restaurants, for instance, has grown from 8 to 50 over the past year, and curiosity about the initiative abounds far beyond the City limits. We were thrilled to have done just a little bit of our part to help move the needle for these big summer projects – and encourage all of you within reach of the City to consider volunteering for a day this summer.

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