Saltwater Farming: Oysters -Winter 2017

by: Elizabeth Clemente

photography by: Nicole Harnishfeger

At first glance, the white building at the edge of Brant Point looks like any other harborfront structure. But inside, more than 50 million new lives are brewing.

For shellfish biologist Tara Reilly and assistant biologist Leah Cabral, the Brant Point shellfish hatchery is home base for projects aimed at supplementing the shellfish population on Nantucket, particularly bay scallops and oysters. The facility is equipped with specially-controlled tanks that mimic ideal conditions for shellfish propagation and the algae necessary to feed the shellfish, and was renovated last year.

Leah Cabral empties shells onto the reef.

The laboratory’s recent renovation has allowed the biologists’ long-term projects to go the extra mile, and Reilly said this year, armed with new equipment, they are hopeful to accomplish as much progress as was made in the past five years at the old hatchery. Both scientists’ projects, while designed to be proactive solutions to the decrease in island shellfish, are also intimately tied to water-quality issues in Nantucket Harbor.

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