James Cervino, PhD, Awarded Grant

James Cervino, PhD

James Cervino, PhD

Assistant Professor James Cervino, PhD, was awarded a grant for wetlands restoration from National Equities Inc., an investment group that purchases real estate adjacent to coastal zones. This $46,500 grant will be used for habitat restoration and oyster disease research in northeastern Queens at the Long Island border.

How it works
An area that is now composed of bare sand with little marine life will be restored to a vibrant and healthy ecosystem. Salt marsh grass will provide a rich green area that will attract mussels and crabs, and be a rich feeding habitat both for fish at high tide and birds at low tide.

New York City has vast numbers of old creosote pilings from collapsed piers that cannot be removed because they are chemically hazardous, and on which little can grow. This project is expected to find a way to contain the toxins within a limestone coating that permits growth of a complex marine community which will help filter and clean the water.

The oyster reefs will help to restore the rich oyster beds that once occupied 350 square miles of New York harbor, but were destroyed by over harvesting and industrial pollution more than 100 years ago. The steel frames will not undergo any rusting or corrosion. This will be completely prevented by the low, and completely safe, direct current trickle charge of a few volts and a few amps (from a battery) provided by cable from solar panels mounted on a rack on the nearby dry land. The steel will turn white as solid limestone rock grows slowly on it because of the current, using state of the art BIOROCK® technology, the best practice for marine ecosystem restoration that is now utilized in more than 20 countries.

Compared to past Oyster Habitat Restoration Projects in the Lower Hudson River in New York, this utilizes the management of a small scale oyster habitat restoration demonstration project, as well as mineral accretion as a means to increase accretion and hymolynth integrity and metabolism. Other projects, such as the proposed action to introduce the Asian oyster species, Crassostrea ariakensis, propagated from existing third or later generations of the Oregon stock of this species into the tidal waters of Maryland and Virginia, along with the continuum of the restoration of native oyster (C. virginica) throughout the Chesapeake Bay, are not using innovative technology to measure resistance and hymolynth integrity.

Oysters growing on the BIOROCK® structures may have higher growth, settlement, reproduction, and survival rates. They, in turn, will act to filter and clean the water in the cove. This project will help restore the lost ecosystem that once covered the area, clean up water quality, provide a beautiful natural attraction for residents of the area, be a unique educational site for local children, and protect the beach from erosion by storms.

Description of project
Salt marsh grass, Spartina alterniflora, will be planted in the intertidal area of the corner cove between McNeil Park and the new development at College Place (pending DEC application, Salt Marsh Restoration, College Point, Queens). Oyster reefs will be grown within this area using solar powered BIOROCK® methods. The oysters will be grown on three horizontal steel racks that receive a low voltage trickle charge from solar panels. The racks will be made from welded half- inch diameter reinforcing bar frames with a rack of expanded metal mesh, and will be four feet wide, eight feet long, and one foot above the bottom, with legs pushed down into the sand to fix them in place. Each rack will be subdivided into areas where oysters will be attached, areas where mussels will be attached, and unplanted control areas. Half of each area will be weeded of algae, tunicates, and sponges, half will be left unweeded, and one will be used as a control to determine natural settlement. Each of the three racks will be at the same depth, but receive a different amount of current, plus one uncharged control. Settlement, growth, and survival of all attached organisms will be measured.

In addition, a further six racks will be used to explore the impact of vertical elevation and wave exposure on oyster and mussel growth, settlement, and survival. Old wooden pilings on the site have their base below the low tide mark, and their tops above the high tide marks. These will be covered with BIOROCK® powered by solar panels mounted to the piling. Two will completely wrap the piling around with three layers of hardware cloth metal mesh nailed to the piling, so that all orientations will be included at all heights. Two will be wrapped with two spirals of steel plate, so that all orientations will be included. Two vertical open spirals with horizontal ladder type struts, will be braced next to the pilings, one serving as an uncharged control. The other will contrast the effects of oysters exposed on horizontal surfaces away from pilings to those on vertical surfaces on pilings.