Oyster Shell. Photo Courtesy of the Billion Oyster Project. 

When Henry Hudson arrived in New York City in 1609, there were approximately 350 square miles of oyster reefs in the harbor and surrounding waters. While oysters were particularly abundant in the New York Harbor in recent history, large mounds of oysters, called “middens”, were historically found in the Hudson Valley. Lamont scientists identified the remains of a fossil oyster beds (Crassostrea virginica) on the Hudson River bottom from Piermont to Haverstraw Bay. Radiocarbon-dated sediment cores indicate that the oysters thrived during two time periods from ~500-2,400 and ~5,600-6,100 years ago when temperatures were warm (Carbotte, et al., 2004). During the summer of 2019, a Lamont scientist found live oysters growing on water monitoring equipment off of Piermont Pier. Perhaps wild oysters are returning to this area once again!

Oyster Monitoring.
Photo Courtesy of Laurel Zaima

Oyster reefs are incredibly important for the Hudson River ecosystem for a variety of reasons: they provide habitat and food for a variety of fish and invertebrates, they have a powerful ability to filter water (especially of nitrogen pollution) as they filter feed, and they can protect the coastlines from storm damage by absorbing wave energy, reducing flooding and preventing erosion. Unfortunately, the once thriving and abundant New York oyster reefs have been diminished due to over harvest, dredging, landfill, and sewage pollution. The monitoring of oyster cages throughout the lower Hudson River and New York Harbor will identify suitable habitats for further oyster restoration efforts. The restoration of oysters reefs will result in a cleaner Hudson River and greater biodiversity!


  • Attend a training to understand the history and importance of oysters in our Hudson River ecosystem
  • Measure and record data about each of the oysters in the cages
  • Identify and record data about any other creatures that have made a home in the oyster cages.

WHEN: 2020 To be determined (typically Spring, Summer, Fall)

WHERE: Piermont Pier

WHO: Everyone! Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by an adult

GET INVOLVED: To attend trainings & participate, contact: Laurel Zaima, Education & Outreach Coordinator, lzaima@ldeo.columbia.edu

This project is coordinate by the Billion Oyster Project.