Thank you to Lauren Wanko and NJTV for presenting our Mantoloking upweller in a news segment. This video shows what our volunteers do and how we raise our clams, oysters, and our new addition bay scallops!
Our Story: ReClam the Bay, Who We Are and What We Do
ReClam The Bay (RCTB) is a grass roots organization. Our volunteers enjoy hands on experiences to help repopulate the bay with shellfish and help kids and adults understand what they can and should do to keep the environment clean and friendly. To do this RCTB needs funds to conduct our work. Below we have identified who we are, what we do and what activities we have planned for the upcoming year that will require funding.
Who are we?
ReClam The Bay is an organization dedicated to providing education and awareness about the environmental benefit of shellfish filtering, feeding and cleaning our estuary. Our mission is to involve the general public so they will understand that the quality of the water in our estuary, and the quality of the shellfish we eat, are really their responsibility. By involving the public in the care, feeding and life cycle of these fragile creatures we believe that our citizens will better understand how working with the shellfish can help to clean up our environment and keep it clean. RCTB has been granted 501 (c) 3 nonprofit status.
What do we do?
Believing that, the best way to become involved with a creature is to be responsible for its well-being, we work closely with the Barnegat Bay Shellfish Restoration Program (BBSRP) established by Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Ocean County. The BBSRP, with hands-on volunteers, builds and maintains clam and oyster nurseries (upwellers) to nurture baby clams and oysters that will repopulate the bay. BBSRP also provides education so volunteers know what to do, when and why. RCTB moves the care and feeding activities in to public view. It provides the education, awareness and support materials to tell the world about how these little creatures both depend on us, and benefit us. With promotions throughout the years, hundreds of people have visited our various upweller locations. We have been able to expand from two upwellers in 2006 to eight upwellers in 2015.
A little history.
The inspiration for our group came from Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Ocean County. According to them, “The best way to reclaim the bay is to RECLAM the bay.” In the spring of 2005, Marine Agents Gef Flimlin, Cara Muscio and Program Associate Jan Larson started started the process. Jim Joseph, Chief of the NJDEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Bureau of Shellfisheries, serves as an advisor and partner to the group. BBSRP received funding from Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders, US EPA’s Barnegat Bay National Estuary Program, and the Excelon Corporation.
About our volunteers.
Each year, new volunteers attend 24 hours of classes conducted by various knowledgeable scientists lecturing on shellfish biology, water quality, construction of shellfish nurseries, and many other related topics. Volunteers contributed hundreds of hours to construct the first nursery upwellers and attend classes and organizational meetings in 2005 and continue to donate hours to educate the public at upwellers, festivals, and in-school classes. We have involved many residents and vacationers in the care of shellfish both in the nurseries and in the bay. RCTB has grown from the few starter volunteers to over 500 volunteers in total.
Building on continued involvement. The program grew 600,000 “babies” from 2mm (the size of the head of a pin) seed to an average size of 12mm (about the size of an M&M) for placement in the bay in 2005 and another clam seed 120,000 in 2006 with a few oysters. Currently, oysters have become one of our main tools, along with clams, in educating the public on shellfish and bay water quality. In 2015, we will experiment with growing bay scallops!
We have been honored by baymen, who were members or non-members, who have appreciated our work and who are so dedicated to our cause, that they continue to give even after they’re gone. Please visit our In Memoriam page.
Specific ReClam The Bay Activities:
We have been able to involve the business community and the people who visit their establishments. Many businesses have a ReClam The Bay plaque which provide simple hand out material telling of the ReClam The Bay activities, the educational programs that we provide, how they can see where the “babies” grow and to visit the web site for more information. Volunteers attend a variety of festivals and events and take along some of the “babies” and display a story board.
Several organizations have asked us to provide classes. We have developed the class outlines and materials to support this activity. We outfit about 1/3 of our volunteers (15) with kits of: hands-on activities, visual aides, handout material and simple class projects to supplement a variety of class room, vacation and after school activities. We have also made lesson plans with support materials which can be available to any group or organization teaching about marine life.
The story board displays the relationship of shellfish to the environment and what ReClam The Bay is are doing with the BBSRP to repopulate the bay using easy to understand text and figures. The same kind of display is used at the upwellers where the public can observe Clam/Oyster care and feeding.
We established a web site in 2005 to provide some of the organization’s information. We have a webpage set up for teaching material that includes links and various articles that can help any group or organization teaching about marine life. We have also created a Facebook and Twitter account to spread information about our activities and display pictures of our volunteers in action.