A $4,800 Hipp grant was awarded to continue the Oyster Farming project in Cape May County. Once again, Middle Township High School educators Chuck Gehman, Bill Doan, Laura Lambert, TJ Moore and Angela Quintana will work together with all the high school science classes on this project.

The initial project taught students the history of the oyster industry in New Jersey, the environmental role oyster reefs play in an ecosystem, how pollution and disease can affect an ecosystem, how resistant varieties can be developed and implemented, and how this presents a viable career option.

During the continuation grant year, students will learn how to raise oysters in a controlled environment which can be successful and profitable.

Recently scientists have started to rebuild some of the oyster reefs. The process is simple: load mesh bags with discarded oyster shells from processing plants and place them into desired areas. The shell gives an excellent place for new oysters to grow. This forms the basis for a new reef system. These reefs provide habitat, filter the waters, and even prevent erosion from boat traffic and storms.

Before establishing the new reef, the area will be surveyed by the students to note what life already exists there. Students will then fill bags with oyster shells from processing plants and move them to the new reef. Students will regularly monitor the reef throughout the growing months (Spring until Fall). Bags will be pulled up and analyzed, and the surrounding area will be sampled to see what life has been moving in. Once it is established, it is hoped that the reef will continue to grow and provide students the opportunity to observe a living ecosystem and how it changes over the years.

Students will be able to use this project for many years as they monitor the reef’s growth and other life that colonizes it.

For further information, contact:

Chuck Gehman
(609) 465-1852 (Middle Township High School)

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