What Do Oysters Have to do With Hurricane Sandy?

Paul Greenberg is toughing Hurricane Sandy out in lower Manhattan. The author of Four Fish, winner of the James Beard award and Grantham Prize finalist, Greenberg knows a thing or two about the impact we've had on wild fish species. Below, he describes the change that has taken place in New York's wild oyster population, and how that has special importance no only in the face of Hurricane Sandy, but a world in which hurricanes like Sandy are becoming more frequent. Time and again, as we tell the ocean's stories, it becomes clear how interconnected even the most seemingly unrelated aspects of an ecosystem are. Greenberg reminds us of this below. - Ed.

As first published in the NY Times Oct. 29, 2012.

 

Down here at the end of Manhattan, on the border between evacuation zones B and C, I’m prepared, mostly. My bathtub is full of water, as is every container I own. My flashlights are battery-ed up, the pantry is crammed with canned goods and I even roasted a pork shoulder that I plan to gnaw on in the darkness if ConEd shuts down the power. 

But as I confidently tick off all the things that Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recommends for my defense as Hurricane Sandy bears down on me, I find I’m desperately missing one thing.

I wish I had some oysters.

Illustration: Scott Menchin

I’m not talking about oysters to eat — although a dozen would be nice to go with that leftover bottle of Champagne that I really should drink if the fridge goes off. I’m talking about the oysters that once protected New Yorkers from storm surges, a bivalve population that numbered in the trillions and that played a critical role in stabilizing the shoreline from Washington to Boston.

Crassostrea virginica, the American oyster, the same one that we eat on the half shell, is endemic to New York Harbor.

 

Read the full article here.

 

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