Our Noank Oyster Gathering brought together over 30 allies (Steve Jones! Tessa Getchis (SeaGrant)! A mom and her little daughter!) from Noank and throughout the Mystic River Watershed at Palmer's Provisions, including Noank Aquaculture Co-op, Mystic Oyster Co, and SixPenny in absentia. We learned how oysters both CLEAN the water and NEED clean water. Since then, oystering was shut down for three weeks while Noank tried to figure out how raw sewage was seeping into the harbor where the oyster beds are, and residents looking to cool off with a dip found the beach access blocked by yellow caution tape.
In one especially “Alliance moment,” Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Elder and Knowledge Keeper Mike Thomas and Alliance Director Rahiem Eleazer (Mashantucket Pequot Climate and Environment Liaison) were sharing stories of the evolutionary relationship between oysters and Indigenous people in Connecticut. He reminisced that the annual fishing and shellfishing celebration on Pequot land in Noank (which welcomed everyone) had to end when they were prevented from fishing and shell-fishing in their ancestral waters because they needed to purchase licenses from the state. He and Tessa Getchis made eye contact, and then she followed up shortly after to be sure they could work together to change that back to the way it should be. We uncover so many fixable issues when we listen to each other!
Did you know that oysters are foundational species--in other words, if the oysters are plentiful and healthy, they not only clean the water to make it possible for other species to live, they also provide healthy habitat. After several years of planting, tending, and harvesting oysters, they take over the process themselves and other plants such as eel grass and animals that should exist in healthy harbors and shorelines move in to help. Thank you to our oyster culturalists for regenerating healthy ecosystems in the watershed!!!! And did you know that oyster beds also function as breakwaters? They slow down the wave action that erodes our shores....Hail to the oyster!
And many thank you's to Bob Degoursey for taking us on an underwater tour. Bob is a retired marine biologist who kept a photographic record of our underwater family over the course of more than 1000 dives near Noank! But that was 30 years ago. If we can raise enough funding, wouldn't it be awesome to facilitate a new series of dives to see how things have changed under there?
Share your artwork! Alliance Arts Director Millie Njeri curated and shared an outstanding photographic "opening" to our online gallery (please submit your own "Watershed Love" art pieces to firstname.lastname@example.org!) So far its virtual walls are EMPTY! Just waiting for you.