For coastal communities, such as those on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, water quality and the overall health of coastal systems has been deteriorating due to nitrogen pollution, which can come from septic systems, fertilizers, and atmospheric deposition.
Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for plant growth, but excess nitrogen caught in runoff water causes harmful algal blooms. Oysters help mitigate the effects of nitrogen pollution as they consume algae during growth, process the excess nitrogen from algal blooms, and convert some of it into harmless nitrogen gas.
About this resource
This graphic was developed as part of a research project in Cape Cod exploring how much nitrogen is removed from coastal waters by common oyster aquaculture methods, and what culturing practices should be adopted to maximize benefits for water quality.