SEA BRIGHT: OYSTER WRANGLERS WANTED

Workers with the American Littoral Society prepare to hang a bag of oyster shells off a dock at the Oyster Point Hotel in Red Bank earlier this month. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

The folks at the Sandy Hook-based nonprofit American Littoral Society are looking for a few good people — and an even greater number of enterprising oysters — as part of a summer-long research project known as Operation Oyster.

Beginning in early July and continuing into September, a team of volunteers will make regular inspections of checkpoints along the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers, tracking the presence of the once-plentiful mollusks as the society attempts to re-establish their population in our local waterways.

And the time is now, for prospective “oyster wranglers” to sign up for a special volunteer training session on Monday, June 19.

Scheduled for 6 p.m. at 2nd Jetty Seafood Restaurant (140 Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright), the session is designed to “focus on how citizen scientists can help monitor shell bags hanging from docks along the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers. The bags are being put out to discover if oysters still live in the rivers.”

As reported here on redbankgreen, the project was spearheaded by Fair Haven resident and Lusty Lobster seafood distributor Doug Douty, who supervised the collection of shucked oyster shells from such client restaurants as the Oyster Point Hotel.

Packed into nylon bags and placed off boat docks and other riverside locations, the shells represent an attempt to create attractive spaces for free-floating oyster larvae (or spat) to attach themselves and grow, helping to improve water quality and making strides toward replenishing what was once the basis for a major regional industry.

During Monday’s training session, Littoral Society “oyster wranglers” will learn how to check the shell bags monthly for the presence of larvae in July, August and September. No prior experience is necessary — participants will need only to provide their own transportation by car or boat to the monitoring sites — and all materials will be provided by the society.

Organizers ask prospective volunteers to please RSVP by June 15 to reserve a place at the training session. For more information, contact Julie Schumacher at (732) 291-0055 or Julie@LittoralSociety.org.