The United States Navy

07/18/2019 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 07/18/2019 10:06

NMCP Staff Volunteer Time to Clean Oyster Pods

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to Naval Medical Center Portsmouth (NMCP) took time out of their morning to clean seven oyster pods attached to the Hospital Point pier, July 12.

Cleaning the wire pods allows water to flow freely through them making it easier for the oysters to filter the water. Adult oysters can filter about 50 gallons of polluted water each day, and each of the seven pods holds approximately 100 oysters.

'We want to help maintain and be a good friend to the river,' said Lanette Donegan, NMCP Environmental Program Manager. 'With NMCP being the oldest entity that's been in this area the longest, the medical center should be the example on how to prevent pollution.'

Donegan added there are many people, bases and businesses that rely on the Elizabeth River and Scotts Creek to operate daily.

'It's extremely important that we maintain the pods we have,' Donegan said.

Sailors pulled the pods from the water and scrubbed off dirt, mud and other debris that covered the pods and the oysters using wire brushes. Then the old, mature oysters were traded for baby oysters contributed by the Elizabeth River Project. Once the pods were ready to go, the baby oysters were placed in the pods. The pods were then secured with zip-ties and lowered back down into the water from the pier.

'The importance of this event is to keep the Elizabeth River clean since it is one of the priority rivers for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation,' said Taylor Austin, Naval Support Activity Hampton Roads Natural Resource Manager. 'The idea is to basically culture an environment for the baby oysters to grow without the impact of predators, which is the point of the cages. The oysters will grow for a year to a size where they're able to be put out on a reef. The artificial reef we're using is in the Lafayette River. We will dump all the oysters we're collecting to help support all different species of marine life.'

Local non-profit organizations in Hampton Roads, such as The Elizabeth River Project and Chesapeake Bay Foundation, have worked endlessly to reduce the amount of pollution in Hampton Roads by using oysters that naturally filter debris from the water. Military bases in Hampton Roads work with these organizations placing the pods along the bases' piers.

As the U.S. Navy's oldest, continuously-operating hospital since 1830, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth proudly serves past and present military members and their families. The nationally acclaimed, state-of-the-art medical center, including its nine branch clinics located throughout the Hampton Roads area, additionally offers premier research and teaching programs designed to prepare new doctors, nurses and hospital corpsmen for future roles in healing and wellness.

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For more news from Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, visit www.navy.mil/local/NMCP/.