Restoring

Reefs

Billion Oyster Project is restoring oyster reefs to New York Harbor in collaboration with New York Metro communities. Oyster reefs provide habitat for thousands of species. They can also help to protect New York City from storm damage—softening the blow of large waves, reducing flooding, and preventing erosion along the shorelines.

Alongside our reef restoration, we also run three oyster nurseries in New York Harbor. Nurseries help us both to grow oysters that will end up on the reefs and to restore additional oysters in situations where there are concerns about predation.

Explore the functions of our oyster reefs and nurseries below, and find a reef near you!

Community Reefs

Community reefs are shoreline-accessible, designed to be educational and regularly visited and monitored by the community.

Brooklyn Bridge Park Community Reef
Waterway: East River, in the waters off of Brooklyn Bridge Park in DUMBO
In the Water
This was Billion Oyster Project’s second community reef, installed in 2016.

Canarsie Community Reef
Waterway: Paerdegat Basin
In the Water
This project serves residents in Canarsie who were impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Community members collaborate to care for the reef, which over time can help protect the shoreline from erosion and storm damage.
Watch a PIX11 video of the folks who made it happen.

Coney Island Community Reef
Waterway: Lower Bay, off of Coney Island
In the Water
The project serves residents in Southern Brooklyn who were impacted by Hurricane Sandy. The oyster reef has been designed as a research tool for residents, with site-specific safety accommodations due to the compromised state of the creek.
Read an interview with Tanasia Swift, Community Reefs Regional Manager.

Sunset Park Community Reef
Waterway: Upper Bay, in the waters of Bush Terminal Park
In the Water
Our largest community reef, this project was installed in 2016 and expanded in 2018. This was also our first community reef!
Reef Relatives:

  • This reef is right next to our Sunset Park: “Bagged Shell” Pilot Reef Research Project! We hope that the two reefs will work together to promote oyster health and reproduction.

Watch an Al Jazeera video filmed at the Sunset Park reefs.

Far Rockaway Community Reef
Waterway: Eastern Jamaica Bay
Looking Forward
More soon!

City Reefs

Volunteers from across the five boroughs help with the creation of oyster reef structures for reefs that will go in deeper waters.

Governors Island Reef
Waterway: Buttermilk Channel of East River, in the waters between Governors Island and Manhattan
In the Water
Located at the Billion Oyster Project headquarters, the Governors Island reef serves as a testing station for restoration techniques in a high-energy, high-predator environment. It is also an ideal training site for Harbor School students who take a leadership role in Billion Oyster Project’s restoration work.

Hudson Reefs, Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge
Waterway: Hudson River
In the Water
A system of three oyster reefs. Billion Oyster Project was selected by the NYS Thruway Authority to construct the gabion oyster reef structures, to help enhance the wild oyster population that was displaced in the construction of the Governor Mario M. Cuomo (formerly Tappan Zee) Bridge. AKRF, Inc, is project and engineering lead, and the Hudson River Foundation and the University of New Hampshire are research partners.

Lemon Creek Lagoon Pilot Oyster Reef
Waterway: Lemon Creek Lagoon in Raritan Bay, off the South Shore of Staten Island
In the Water
At this site, we are piloting reef structures not previously used at our reefs: oyster shells in bags; ECOncrete disks; and mini-gabions, current-resistant steel structures. This reef is part of the activities that Billion Oyster Project is undertaking to prepare for the eventual restoration of oysters at the Living Breakwaters Project managed by the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR).

Sunset Park: “Bagged Shell” Pilot Reef Research Project
Waterway: Upper Bay, in the waters of Bush Terminal Park
In the Water
Our first “bagged-shell” reef, this reef is made out of bags of oysters and bags of oyster-less shells. (One of the elements we’re testing: whether larvae from the nearby community reef will settle on empty shells.) Bagged-shell reefs are ideally suited for stabilizing sediment and preventing erosion along shorelines, versus our deep-water reefs where steel structures are better suited to create stable reef environments.
Reef Relatives:

  • Lemon Creek Lagoon Pilot Oyster Reef and the forthcoming Far Rockaway Community Reef also use bags of oysters and shells.
  • This reef is right next to our Sunset Park Community Reef! We hope that the materials we used to build this reef will also help young oysters from the community reef to thrive.

The NYC Department of Environmental Protection’s Jamaica Bay Oyster Restoration Pilot Project
Waterway: Eastern Jamaica Bay
In the Water
Partners Billion Oyster Project, Cornell Cooperative Extension, HDR, Hudson River Foundation, and Substructure have constructed four new reefs using recycled porcelain, oyster shell, and clam shell. A large population of transplanted adult oysters has been installed nearby, and the team, with the help of NY Harbor School student divers, is investigating whether these installed materials and oysters will contribute to a self-sustaining oyster population in Jamaica Bay and studying what other bottom-dwelling species use the reefs for habitat.

The Living Breakwaters Project
Waterway: Raritan Bay, off of the South Shore of Staten Island
Coming Soon
The Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery’s Living Breakwaters project is an innovative $74 million green infrastructure project along the shoreline of southern Staten Island designed to reduce or reverse erosion and damage from storm waves, improve the ecosystem health of Raritan Bay, and encourage environmentally conscious stewardship of our nearshore waters. Billion Oyster Project will enhance the Living Breakwaters project by installing oysters on and around the constructed breakwaters.

Nurseries

Nurseries play an important role in oyster restoration, providing protection from predators, sedimentation, strong tidal currents, and boat wakes.

Great Kills Harbor Nursery
Waterway: Great Kills Harbor, off the South Shore of Staten Island
In the Water
This nursery is stocked and maintained by Billion Oyster Project staff with support from Staten Island school partners, New York Harbor School students, and Richmond County Yacht Club members.
Parent Project:
The Living Breakwaters Project managed by the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR).

Lemon Creek Lagoon Nursery
Waterway: Lemon Creek Lagoon in Raritan Bay, off the South Shore of Staten Island
In the Water
Nearby to the Lemon Creek Lagoon Pilot Oyster Reef, this nursery seeks to increase the oyster larvae population in Prince’s Bay and potentially throughout the shoreline of Staten Island.
Parent Project:
The Living Breakwaters Project managed by the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery (GOSR).

Wallabout Basin Nursery
Waterway: East River
In the Water
Oysters grown on Governors Island grow and breed in this spawning sanctuary, adding to the larvae in Upper New York Harbor and increasing the diversity of life in this concrete-lined basin at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.