MIKE SPRINGER/Staff photo
Steve Parkes of Maritime Gloucester builds an upweller oyster nursery in the museum's workshop Wednesday in preparation for a marine habitat conservation project he plans to launch later this year. Oyster populations support a healthy underwater ecosystem, according to Parkes. Their reefs create habitat for a variety of species, and a single oyster can filter over 30 gallons of water a day. Parkes will purchase about 60,000 baby oysters, or spat. The upweller nursery will be used to optimize the growing process, by protecting the oysters from predators while feeding them a constant supply of nutrient-rich seawater. Parkes hopes to release the first batch this fall in Essex, Gloucester and other approved locations. The ultimate goal, he says, is to improve habitat for commercial fishing.