Bellport Bay gets first FLUPSY
It’s been two years in the making for Friends of Bellport Bay, but the nonprofit has just taken a step forward in making the bay cleaner. On Monday, March 11, volunteers installed a Floating Upweller System (FLUPSY), which will harvest oysters on a rotating basis before they are “planted” in the bay.
“It feels like Christmas,” said Mary Butler, treasurer of FoBB, as the truck carrying the FLUPSY backed into the Beaver Dam Boat Basin Monday morning.
The structure, which is basically an 8-by-20 floating dock, was built in Maryland and brought in on a truck, where it took two forklifts and four people to get it in the water. Once there, the 1,000-pound structure was towed down Beaver Dam Creek to Fireplace Marina, where it will live in a slip. The FLUPSY is the first of its kind in Bellport Bay, as FoBB has taken after the Moriches Bay Project, which currently runs several.
The FLUPSY is a more efficient way to grow oysters, according to Thomas Schultz, president of FoBB. The “dock” holds eight bins, which hold oysters at the different stages of their growth. They all start as 2-millimeter seeds and eventually grow to about an inch. Volunteers monitor the growth until the oysters are mature enough to be placed in the bay, where they naturally filter the water. FoBB plans to purchase about 250,000 oysters to grow in the FLUPSY, about 85 percent of which will mature successfully. Thanks to a motor in the FLUPSY, water flows through the bins underneath and infuses the oysters with water and nutrients. Schultz said the process takes about 60 days, at which point the bins can be rotated and new seeds can begin to grow.
So far, FoBB has planted about 700,000 shellfish in Bellport Bay, and the FLUPSY helps oysters to grow at a higher rate. It takes about 30 million oysters to filter the entire bay once per day, and Schultz said the goal is to get as close to that as possible. Butler added that a cleaner bay is beneficial to everyone.
FoBB will place the first set of oysters in the FLUPSY around April 15, once the water temperature gets above 50 degrees. Then in June, the oysters should be ready to move to separate cages to continue their growth, or be planted.
The FLUPSY costs about $14,000 and FoBB is hoping to get another one. Vice President Katia Read was instrumental in securing funding for the first FLUPSY. Schultz and Butler said their generous donors helped this dream come true, and hope their fundraisers this year will be as successful. They will host and annual fundraiser on June 8th with more information coming soon.
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