Coastal and Marine Volunteer Program 2012

You can help restore critical oyster reefs!

Oyster reefs such as this one, in a Rhode Island salt pond, provide critical habitat to many other organisms.

The Nature Conservancy in Rhode Island and its partners are preparing for this summer’s oyster habitat restoration and monitoring program. Oysters are an important component of the estuaries and salt ponds that line Rhode Island’s coasts. They provide critical nursery habitat for many organisms, such as juvenile fishes and crabs. In addition, oyster reefs stabilize sediment, providing means of erosion control, and aide in water quality by filtering suspended particles from the water column. Oysters Gone Wild, our oyster restoration and habitat enhancement program, consists of three objectives: monitor oyster recruitment (spat), collect and recycle shell, and restore oyster habitat. Volunteer and community support is needed to successfully restore this critical coastal habitat!

What is it?
Through the generous contribution of the RI Coastal Resources Management Council, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is launching a volunteer-supported Oyster Monitoring Program. This program is one of the first efforts to coordinate sampling for oyster recruitment (spat) in Rhode Island. This year, monitoring will focus on South County coastal salt ponds (Winnapaug, Quonochontaug, Ninigret, Green Hill, Potter, and Pt. Judith Pond).
Who can participate? If you are a dock owner or have access to a dock then contact us! Monitoring will follow seasonal development of oysters from May to October with monthly observations made by volunteers and TNC field staff.
We provide volunteers with all materials and training required to participate in the program. Supplies will include an oyster larvae collector (spat rack), an identification guide, and data record sheets. In addition, volunteers can collect physical data, including salinity of the water, air and water temperature, as well as weather conditions. Information collected can either be submitted electronically (online) or in-person. An end-of-the-season volunteer event will be held to share information and to discuss project results!

What it is?
Each year Rhode Islanders eat about five and a half million oysters, sending more than a million pounds of oyster shell to landfills. Our Shell Recycling Program captures some of that valuable resource before it makes it to landfills by partnering with oyster bars to recycle their shell back into our coastal waters. Using these shells and an army of volunteers, we will construct oyster reefs to encourage settlement and survival of wild oyster larvae.
Who can participate? If you like to be outside, have a strong back, and are interested in restoring coastal resources then contact us! We will provide training and the recycling bins to community groups or individuals interested in our shell recycling program. Scheduled pick-up days must be coordinated with our Shellfish Restoration Coordinator. Volunteer Weekend Work Days are scheduled in May and June to bag oyster shells, move material, and construct oyster reefs. Please bring your own work gloves and water. No experience is required as demonstrations will be provided.
Where? DEM Coastal Fisheries Laboratory, Jerusalem RI
When? April 21, 22 (bag shell at Coastal Fisheries Lab, Jerusalem RI)
April 28, 29
(bag shell at Coastal Fisheries Lab, Jerusalem RI)
May 5, 6 (bag shell at Coastal Fisheries Lab, Jerusalem RI)
May 19, 20 (bag and move shell, Jerusalem to Charlestown RI)
May 26, 27 (bag and move shell, Jerusalem to Charlestown RI)
June 1, 2 (bag and move shell, Jerusalem to Charlestown RI)
*Rain dates TBD

As part of the coastal and marine program, The Nature Conservancy is seeking volunteers to assist with miscellaneous office and laboratory services. Office support may include filing, data entry, and other activities. Laboratory support may include sample preparation, sediment sorting, and gear maintenance. If you are an undergraduate student attending a local college or university looking for experience in Coastal and Marine Sciences than let us know!

If you would like to volunteer or have any questions please:

Oysters Gone Wild Program
Website: (Oysters Gone Wild)
Phone (Providence Office): (401) 331-7110
Phone (Narragansett Office): (401) 874-6163


NOAA Logo  NRCS Logo 3 NRCS Logo 1CRMC Logo

We would also like to give great thanks to the following organizations for their contribution to this effort:
Jamestown Aquaculture Movement 
Ocean State Shellfish Cooperative
Clean the Bay



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