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Environmentalists Re-Establishing Barnegat Bay Oyster Colony

Chesapeake Bay Program, Flickr

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A New Jersey environmental group is taking a major step toward re-establishing an oyster colony in Barnegat Bay.

The American Littoral Society is holding a send-off party Wednesday in Ocean Gate for its oyster spat, which will be taken by boat to an artificial reef about a quarter-mile off a section of Berkeley Township.

Group officials say the oyster colony should improve water quality and help protect the shoreline from storms like Superstorm Sandy.

The send-off comes about three months after the group hired a barge to dump 160 tons of whelk shells onto the bay floor. Oysters attach themselves to the shells and grow.

The shellfish filter water, straining out many pollutants. The hard-shell colonies also act as speed bumps for storm waves and tidal surges, helping blunt the impact of severe storms on the shoreline.