Last week, a group of youngsters from the Boys & Girls Club of the Bellport Area got to be part of the effort to help improve water quality in Bellport Bay.
Four youngsters participated in a five-day marine environment education program organized by Friends of Bellport Bay and the Center for Environmental Education and Discovery, that included three days of being out on the water and working with Friends of Bellport Bay interns to plant 60,000 oysters on bulkheads in Bellport Bay.
Oysters are an important source for improving water quality in the bay. Once mature, each oyster can filter as many as 50 gallons of water per day.
The program also included a fishing trip on the Long Island Sound and an arts-and-crafts workshop at CEED’s Washington Lodge headquarters, where students made living seawalls, which will be attached to the bulkheads.
The week was funded through a grant from the David M. Duffy Jr. Foundation, which was started in 2021 in memory of Duffy Jr., a Bellport resident.
Duffy, who died in 2021 at age 39, was an avid boater and passionate about Bellport Bay. That made partnering with Friends of Bellport Bay and CEED a natural union.
“This would be true to David’s vision of life because he loved the bay so much,” said Ryan Kelly, a friend, board member, and co-founder of the foundation, which has also funded scholarships for graduating seniors at Bellport High School.
Katia Read, co-founder and chair of Friends of Bellport Bay, said she hopes the youngsters participating in the program come away with an appreciation of Bellport Bay and its ecosystem.
“The bay needs help,” she said.