Oyster Bay 'seeds' millions of shellfish to help spur environmental, economic boost

OYSTER BAY, Long Island (WABC) -- Millions of shellfish were released into the water off Oyster Bay on Long Island Thursday.

Not only to help the environment but to boost the economy, too.

It is how the town of Oyster Bay got its name back in the early 1600s.

Locals say the annual ritual of "seeding" the bay with millions of tiny clams and oysters takes on greater significance each year.

"Each oyster filters 54 gallons of water a day. The proof is in the pudding," Oyster Bay Town Councilman Louis Imbroto said.

It's a lot of natural filtration.

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Oyster Bay Town Supervisor Joe Saladino, who grew up clamming on these waters, used fish tanks to show our cameras just how much these shellfish can clean their own habitat.

The results were obvious, two tanks were filled with ocean water, but just one of them also had shellfish inside and its water was far clearer.

"You can see the results of that filtration, based on how clean the water is," Saladino said.

This year the town is releasing an additional one million clam seeds bringing the total to three million clams and a quarter of a million oysters which are now grown over several months, at a hatchery they've constructed.

It's all part of a much larger process, the oysters won't be harvested for another one to three years and the baby clams could take as long as five years.

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During that time they'll help to remove harmful nitrogen and algae from the water.

"Well I'm very concerned. People are constantly putting things in our waters. Human influence is a big factor,"Oyster Bay Conservation Biologist Stephen Koester said.

But sometimes giving nature a chance to run its course is the best medicine of all.

An economic boost to those who've relied on this bay for decades, as well.

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