ReClam the Bay, Recipient

In the coastal stretches from New Jersey’s Mantoloking to Beach Haven, ReClam the Bay is rejuvenating the ecosystem, one shellfish at a time. ThePeople holding bags of clams in coastal bay water. organization was founded in 2005 after a simple conversation between two friends who noted that to “reclaim” the bay, they would need to “re-clam” it. At the heart of the organization’s success is its passionate volunteers, who are the driving force behind each program. ReClam the Bay’s initiatives are designed to nurture the bay back to health and educate the public on the significance of all the organization is accomplishing. Upweller upkeep At the cornerstone of the organization’s efforts is its upweller program, an aquaculture project that raises clams from seed. Clams are filter feeders that play a crucial role in cleaning the bay’s waters. Upwellers—large tanks that contain silos equipped with screens that allow bay water to pass over the shellfish—are distributed across 12 locations along the coast. June through November, volunteers maintain these upwellers at least once per week to ensure the clams thrive. At the end of the growing season, the clams are moved out of the upwellers and placed under nets, where they’re protected from predators, so they can continue growing. A year later, volunteers—donned in wetsuits—gather, count, sort and distribute the mature clams in specific areas around the bay. Education and outreach Education is another pillar program of ReClam the Bay. A dedicated team of volunteers attend community events to spread awareness about the important role shellfish play in restoring and maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Through festivals, farmers markets, school visits and more, ReClam the Bay demonstrates the incredible filter-feeding capabilities of shellfish. Often, the organization uses real clams and bay water to showcase the cleaning power of these vital shellfish. Shoreline stabilization Shoreline stabilization is the organization’s third major initiative. Mesh bags are filled with specialized shells by volunteers, including families, individuals and community groups. The bags are placed in tanks containing oyster larvae. The larvae then attach to the shells. Once the larvae attach, ReClam the Bay volunteers place the bags of shells along eroding shorelines. This creates a living shoreline that helps prevent further erosion, rebuilds the shoreline and attracts various marine life. Volunteer recognition gifts show appreciation for hard work ReClam the Bay used a one by one grant to purchase vacuum tumblers, which were used as volunteer recognition gifts. “Our volunteers are really enthusiastic. We wanted to give them something just to show appreciation and thank them for their service,” said Frances Rupp Sanchez, volunteer at ReClam the Bay.

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