Doing Our Part:
You can help stem the tide of excessive nutrients today:
East Lyme- Conservation of Natural Resources Commission
East Lyme- Niantic River Watershed
Diagram source: NOAA
NBSF is committed to creating a system of growth which allows for the facilitation of positive change in the local eco-system. By introducing hundreds of thousands of oysters, a cornerstone species, into these waters, NBSF serves the public by filtering millions upon millions of gallons of water which would have otherwise gone unfiltered. These shellfish consume the phytoplankton which blooms in the Bay and River. Due to human development of lands and the use of products such as fertilizer, more nutrients are entering the water, by way of rainwater runoff, than ever before.
This influx of nitrogen causes phytoplankton to bloom in such vast quantities that, if it is not removed from the ecosystem, it can consume all of the dissolved oxygen thus creating dead zones. Furthermore, during the summer months, when the growth of submerged aquatic vegetation (such as eel grass) occurs, such a dense bloom can limit sunlight penetration consequently reeking havoc on the natural habitat which provides food and shelter for soo many juveniles. Due to the fact that the Niantic River is a five Town watershed, it is incredibly difficult to coordinate between all towns. For those who do not live directly on the River, it is hard for them to understand the effects their daily choices have on this essential ecosystem. Consequently, the only potential and feasible buffer, at this point, to protect the watershed from non-point pollution (storm runoff) is Mollusks. With cleaner water, not only will SAV thrive but so to will bait fish, juvenile sport fish and natural sets of other mollusks.
The structures that are deployed and maintained by NBSF not only house the town's greatest public filtration system but they also have created the largest sub-tidal artificial reef in Town Waters. Prior to deploying these structures in the Bay, the bottom was a wasteland of countless slipper shells and the occasional spider crab. Now each cage teem with a plethora of life. Snails, blue crabs, rock crabs, spider crabs, sea robin, sea bass, fluke, flounder, whelks an assortment of bait fish cling to the exterior of the trays or find refuge within. Some are lured to the cages for safety while others are drawn to the food source which the cages offer. While some predators do sate their desire for oysters, many of the animals continuously groom the cages cleaning them of any macro algae. Lastly, with such high concentrations of the same species, it is inevitable that local shellfishers will reap the benefits from the spawning activities of these shellfish.