Mass Oyster Project, Maritime Gloucester to Study Water Quality Impacts of Oysters

Gloucester upweller tank seeded with 60,000 oysters.

Courtesy of Mass Oyster Project


The Massachusetts Oyster Project has partnered with Maritime Gloucester on a groundbreaking project to raise oysters in a tank on the pier located at the Maritime Museum at 23 Harbor Loop.  Water from Gloucester Harbor will be pumped into the tank, known as an upweller, circulated through silos containing the oysters, and released back into the harbor.  The oysters filter and feed from the plankton in the water, cleansing the water in the process. Water samples will be collected from both the intake and outflow of the tank to determine the oysters’ impact on water quality.

“Oysters are a huge part of Massachusetts’ culture and provide many environmental benefits to the coastal ecosystem. This exciting project aims to educate the public on the ways in which oyster populations can help balance habitat and support the health of our waters,” says Jennifer Filiault, president of the Massachusetts Oyster Project.

On July 14, 60,000 oysters measuring approximately 1-5mm in length will be placed in the upweller.  Through the course of the summer they will filter feed from the plankton in Gloucester Harbor’s water and will be about 25mm in length in the fall.  Mass Oyster is currently exploring possible areas the oysters can be relocated at that time. 

In keeping with Mass Oyster Project’s mission, the goals of the program are three-fold:

Increase the knowledge of oysters’ impacts on water quality by collecting samples and data from this system.

Utilize the publically accessible and high visibility site to educate museum visitors and the public on the vast social, economic, and environmental benefits provided by oysters.

Train interns and volunteers in oyster aquaculture through hands-on experience with the oysters.



Mass Oyster Project encourages the public to attend and view the upweller and will be hosting a fundraiser to celebrate the oysters on August 5 from 4-7 p.m. at the Maritime Gloucester pier.  Tickets are available at Maritime Gloucester interns will also be giving public presentations each week.

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