The eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) has historically played a vital role in the ecology of Great Bay Estuary. As many as 1,000 acres of live oyster reef may have covered the estuary in1970, but now over 90% of oysters are lost due to pollution, harvest, and disease. Without oysters, Great Bay Estuary is lacking the natural filtration capacity to maintain healthy eelgrass beds as nitrogen and siltation increase.
The Nature Conservancy and The University of New Hampshire, with others, are scaling-up efforts to restore local oyster reefs. We re-build reefs to clean the water and provide fish habitat. Since we work in areas closed to harvest, the new reefs are sanctuaries for spawning oysters in the Bay.
From the volunteer oyster conservationists who raise young spat in cages off their docks to the scientists who reconstruct historic reef sites for the juvenile oysters to call home, our approach literally takes a village. Below are just a few of our many stories!
The oyster reef construction at the mouth of the Squamscott River has recently been featured in local and regional newspapers. Check out coverage by New Hampshire Public Radio, as well as in the Union Leader, Seacoast Online and Fosters Daily Democrat.
We're pleased to present the data from this year's oyster restoration efforts - a year of solid progress in Great Bay! Download
After 7 years, the Oyster Conservationist Program has grown to 39 families strong. See how this year's efforts stack up. View
University of New Hampshire eelgrass expert Fred Short is playing a lead role in restoring sea-grass meadows to New England's estuaries. Dive in!
New Hampshire Public Radio takes a first-hand look at our oyster reef construction efforts in the Squamscott River.
We're continuing efforts to restore habitat and improve water quality in the Great Bay Estuary by constructing 2 acres of oyster reef in the Squamscott River. View
John Iber uses his grandfather’s lessons from the Chesapeake to dig oysters at New Hampshire’s Great Bay. He’s been coming down to Adam’s Point in Durham since 1973 to dig with friends, tell stories and toss the shells back into the bay. Meet John
This growing program is vital to the success of our oyster restoration efforts. See how you can play an active role in restoring the health of Great Bay. Explore
Check out the data and results from the 2011 Oyster Conservationist Program. View
The Moose Plate! The Conservancy has been awarded a NH Conservation License Plate grant to support our oyster restoration program at Great Bay. Dive in
The Oyster Restoration Program was recently featured on the front page of the Union Leader. Read
Check out a poster on this year's oyster reef restoration efforts in the Lamprey River. Learn more
Curious about the process? Take a peek at this all-in-one slide detailing the volunteer "life cycle". Download
Spanning 990 square miles and 46 towns, NH's coastal watersheds harbor irreplaceable resources. See more
Get the Fact Sheet on Restoring Native Oyster Reefs in the Great Bay Estuary. View