DISASTERS

Enviros re-establishing oyster colony in Barnegat Bay to help water quality, storm protection

  • In this April 16, 2015 photo, a hydraulic shovel and workers with hand-held shovels dump whelk shells into Barnegat Bay in Berkeley Township, N.J. as part of a project by the American Littoral Society environmental group to re-establish an oyster colony in the bay. Oyster seedling will attach themselves to the whelk shells and begin to grow. The bumpy colonies should also help blunt the impact of waves from future storms like Superstorm Sandy.(AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

    In this April 16, 2015 photo, a hydraulic shovel and workers with hand-held shovels dump whelk shells into Barnegat Bay in Berkeley Township, N.J. as part of a project by the American Littoral Society environmental group to re-establish an oyster colony in the bay. Oyster seedling will attach themselves to the whelk shells and begin to grow. The bumpy colonies should also help blunt the impact of waves from future storms like Superstorm Sandy.(AP Photo/Wayne Parry)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this April 16, 2015 photo, a worker walks atop a pile of whelk shells shortly before they were dumped into Barnegat Bay in Berkeley Township, N.J. as part of a project by the American Littoral Society environmental group to re-establish an oyster colony in the bay. After oysters attach themselves to the whelk shells, the colonies could help blunt the force of waves from future storms like Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

    In this April 16, 2015 photo, a worker walks atop a pile of whelk shells shortly before they were dumped into Barnegat Bay in Berkeley Township, N.J. as part of a project by the American Littoral Society environmental group to re-establish an oyster colony in the bay. After oysters attach themselves to the whelk shells, the colonies could help blunt the force of waves from future storms like Superstorm Sandy. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this April 16, 2015 photo, a hydraulic shovel dumps whelk shells into Barnegat Bay in Berkeley Township, N.J. as part of a project by the American Littoral Society environmental group to re-establish an oyster colony in the bay. Oyster seedling will attach themselves to the whelk shells and begin to grow. The bumpy colonies should also help blunt the impact of waves from future storms like Superstorm Sandy.(AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

    In this April 16, 2015 photo, a hydraulic shovel dumps whelk shells into Barnegat Bay in Berkeley Township, N.J. as part of a project by the American Littoral Society environmental group to re-establish an oyster colony in the bay. Oyster seedling will attach themselves to the whelk shells and begin to grow. The bumpy colonies should also help blunt the impact of waves from future storms like Superstorm Sandy.(AP Photo/Wayne Parry)  (The Associated Press)

A New Jersey environmental group is re-establishing an oyster colony in Barnegat Bay as part of a plan to improve water quality and simultaneously help protect the shoreline from storms like Superstorm Sandy.

The American Littoral Society is restoring an oyster colony about a quarter-mile off a section of Berkeley Township.

On Thursday, it hired a barge to dump 160 tons of whelk shells onto the bay floor.

Oysters are naturally attracted to shells, attach themselves and grow.

The shellfish naturally filter water and strain out many pollutants.

But society executive director Tim Dillingham says the hard-shell colonies also act as speed bumps for storm waves and tidal surges, helping blunt the impact of severe storms on the shoreline.

It's one of several such projects at the Jersey shore.