Oyster Odyssey 

“Oyster Odyssey“ is a photography project that weaves together the work of the Billion Oyster Project (BOP) in the NY Harbor and the heritage of my grandfather’s oyster farming in France in the 1970s. Back then, the farm encountered challenges that foreshadowed today's global warming and biodiversity decline. The advent of intensive agriculture led to the release of toxic nitrates into the water, and an oil disaster wiped out 6000 tons of oysters, 600 of which were on the farm. These environmental damages, which affected local marine ecosystems, now resonate on a larger scale.

In New York, BOP set out to add one billion oysters to the Harbor by 2035 to achieve two goals: depollute the water thanks to the oysters’ high filtering capabilities, and fortify coastlines against the impacts of extreme weather events. Since Hurricane Sandy, New York accentuated its effort to use “green” infrastructure to alleviate risks due to rising sea levels and increased flood hazards — including oyster reefs. Besides, the North Atlantic Ocean has shown the highest increase in wave energy over the past 40 years (an ocean shared by the eastern coast of the US and the coast of France). 

Despite being responsible for absorbing 90% of excess CO2 generated by humans, and producing 50% of the oxygen we breathe, the ocean's plight in the face of global warming is often overlooked. Ocean heatwaves and acidification are increasing at an alarming rate, threatening marine ecosystems, including the oyster. Yet, these phenomena remain largely misunderstood and underestimated by the public, mostly due to their invisibility compared to land heatwaves and fires. In this context, oysters play a vital role in maintaining both water and land resilience. 

As a BOP ambassador, I partake in specialized areas of operations including reef monitoring, research trainings and reef structure building. Besides, another core part of the project is to search my family archive in France. From this pursuit, I will interrogate what can be learned from oyster culture 50 years ago to better understand broader marine ecosystems and their decline today.

"Oyster Odyssey" ultimately aims to raise awareness about the critical role of oysters in maintaining water and land resilience. By bridging past and present, scientific data and personal stories, its goal is to shed light on the urgent need to protect marine ecosystems.

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