At the New York Harbor School, Growing Oysters for Credit

By David Kamp

Beneath a floating dock off Governors Island, tucked behind the squat octagonal white ventilation tower for the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, there are oysters growing in New York Harbor.

And not just any oysters. These little bivalves, 500,000 strong, make up the largest concentrated oyster population that the harbor has seen in perhaps a century.

On a recent spring day, Pete Malinowski, who tends to these oysters, removed one of the metal grates that have been fitted into the dock’s surface, revealing a series of silos, as he calls the 60-gallon plastic tubs in which his charges live. He plunged his hand into a silo and pulled up a few specimens for examination. They were small, maybe an inch and a quarter long, but they looked like normal oysters: ridged, craggy and tightly shut — not the grotesque mutant mollusks that the words “cultivated in New York City waters” might suggest.

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