We’ve received partial funding to install a native oyster garden at Point Pinole Regional Shoreline in Richmond. This will be the first native oyster garden in San Francisco Bay built by the community, for the community! To pay for materials, public outreach, and educational activities, we need your help to raise an additional $15,000.
Why Native Oysters?
The diminutive mollusks play an important role in the Bay’s ecology for two reasons. First, oysters are habitat engineers. Generations of oysters living and dying on top of each other create substantial reefs of shell. These reefs stabilize the bay floor and host a rich, diverse biota that includes migrating salmonids, spawning herring, and tiny goby fish that lay their eggs inside oyster shells. Oysters are also an important food source for larger fish and birds.
Second, oysters are highly effective filter feeders, meaning they clarify the water. In the process of feeding, each oyster is a prodigious water treatment plant purifying as much as 30 quarts of water a day through their gills.
Clarified water allows sunlight to penetrate deeper, improving conditions for another important species: eelgrass. Eelgrass physically blocks or captures sediment with its sticky blades. This process keeps the oyster shells free of sediment, thus providing more places for young oysters to attach. When both oysters and eelgrass are present, the subtidal ecosystem is able to flourish.
A healthy subtidal ecosystem built around species-rich oyster reefs and eelgrass, is absolutely essential for recovery of the salmon and herring fisheries. These oyster beds are the cornerstone of a living shoreline highway that guides and nurtures migrating fish like salmon and herring. Additionally, the sticky blades of eelgrass capture the spawn of herring and become food for juvenile salmonids (smolts) that pass through on their way to the ocean while the herring are spawning. The wavy blades also provide shelter from predators for the smolts.
Because they contribute so much to the health of many other species, oysters and eelgrass are known as keystone species. By making a generous contribution to the Watershed Project’s Living Shoreline Program, you can be a keystone species too!
Your gift also helps to bring the living world under the Bay’s surface to local youth. The Point Pinole Regional Shoreline, part of East Bay Regional Park District, is the largest shoreline park in the entire Bay Area. The 2,315-acre park features a myriad of habitats and over 100 species of birds can be found on sandy shores, marshland, eucalyptus groves, meadows, and a fresh water pond. And yet it is vastly underutilized. Our educators are changing that. They have engaged hundreds of youth who have never considered what’s living underwater. Some had never seen the Bay! We need to nurture these budding scientists to ensure a healthy Bay for future generations.
Thank you for your support. You may make a contribution by clicking here.
Or by sending a check to:
The Watershed Project Oyster Reef Project
1327 South 46th Street
155 Richmond Field Station
Richmond, CA 94804