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, together with other partners, are again teaming up to rebuild degraded oyster reef habitat in the Piscataqua Region Estuary of New Hampshire and Maine. Thanks to support from dedicated members like you, the program has successfully restored more than six acres of reef and 1.2M oysters to the system since 2009. Oysters are an ecological linchpin of the estuary, providing essential fish habitat and water quality regulation services. This year, the team has permits and funding in place to significantly scale up efforts with an additional five acres and 1M oysters expected to be re-established.
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!
Wednesday, November 13: Portsmouth Science Cafe Presents "NH Oysters: Good for You, Good for the Bay"
After 8 years, the Oyster Conservationist Program has grown to 50 families strong. See how this year's efforts stack up. View
Oyster Conservationist Program Coordinator, Kara McKeton, blogs about the start of the oyster growing season with her amazing crew of volunteers.
We're pleased to present the data from this year's oyster restoration efforts - a year of solid progress in Great Bay! Download
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