First-Ever LBT Shellabration a Shucking Success

Oct 10, 2018
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

There were kites in the sky, runners on the road and, in Bayview Park, oysters a-plenty, as part of Long Beach Township’s first-ever Shellabration.

The salute to bay culture, held, aptly, right along the bay in Brant Beach on Saturday, brought the community together with local oyster farmers and the partners in the Oyster Recycling Program: LBT, Jetty, the Jetty Rock Foundation, Stockton University and the Parsons Mariculture Center, as well as the restaurants that provide empty oyster shells utilized to raise more oysters in a reef in the bay.

“The turnout was better than we expected for a first-year event,” said township Mayor Joseph Mancini, who conceived the celebration as a way “to bring awareness to the bay, to aquaculture and oyster restoration.”

“With a first-year event you can never know,” said Jetty CEO/partner/cofounder Jeremy DeFilippis, “but when we opened the gates we were ahead of the game,” as attendees were eagerly waiting for the event’s noon start.

DeFillipis concurred with Mancini: that the heart of the Shellabration is “informing the public about what oysters and bay culture means” for our area.

“The more the public knows, the better,” said Dale Parsons, fifth generation owner of Parsons Seafood in Tuckerton. “This is for people to learn about what we do and why we do it,” and so they can understand the significance of this “destination-based resource.”

Clean water, and its bounty, is the soul of the place.

Jimmy and the Parrots and Facedown entertained the crowd as the local farmers shucked oysters and talked reefs. Additional food was available from partners Bistro 14, Howard’s, Kubel’s Too, Mud City and Old Causeway, as well as the Woo Hoo, Philly Pretzel and Sunny Rae’s Kitchen. There was beer and wine; a photobooth, henna tattoos and yoga; and the kids could play cornhole and Jenga and Connect4, make kites and go seining in the bay.

Local nonprofits ReClam the Bay and Alliance for a Living Ocean were also on site to educate alongside the oyster farmers, Parsons and the Stockton Marine Field Station, the latter of which displayed a table with oyster shells from the Tuckerton Reef – a 2-acre research site in the Middle Grounds area of Little Egg Harbor Bay, initiated by Parsons and Stockton – that showed where the spat had been placed on each shell.

Sadie Gramuglia, a senior at Stockton University, is researching the reef, and pointed out the sponge and anenome in a tank that showed two years’ worth of growth on oyster shells, and searched for a sneaky fish that hid from the curious children (and adults) peeking into the tank.

Gramuglia was joined by Christine Thompson, Stockton assistant professor of marine science, whose areas of experience include oyster restoration and habitat monitoring.

“What’s so exciting about this is we all understand the importance of oyster restoration, how it contributes to the health of the bay, and how that in turn brings people to our area,” said Bayview Park Supervisor Joni Bakum. “That’s the beginning and end of this.

“I’m thrilled to see what’s going on here, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”

Joe Mangino, of START and the New Jersey Organizing Project, and a shell recycling specialist with the Oyster Recycling Program, chatted with LBT Sustainability Coordinator Angela Andersen and Jetty CMO/partner/cofounder Cory Higgins, noting, “Anytime we can get people together enjoying oysters, and have this opportunity to educate, it’s a great thing.”

Andersen mentioned the screening of locally-produced, award-winning documentary “The Oyster Farmers” that would be screening that evening in the LBT courtroom.

On Sunday, she noted that nine bushels of shell were recycled from the celebration, which “was an extraordinary success – a fully community-centric event.”

“It was a good weekend all around,” said Mancini. “This was a nice way to cap off the season.”

Juliet Kaszas-Hoch

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