From pond to plate: Oyster farms and the restaurant industry

Photo: Farrukh

BRISTOL, R.I. __ The economy in Rhode Island depends heavily on the seafood industry, and the restaurants are known for having some of the best around. Because of environmental issues, most oyster bars in the state get their shellfish from hatcheries, rather than from natural resources. This stabilizes the industry, and ensures the success of the restaurant.

Matunuck Oyster Bar in South Kingstown was named one of the best oyster bars in America by The Huffington Post.

Perry Raso, who founded the oyster farm in 2002, has been wild-harvesting oysters since the age of 12. What started as a small oyster farm and seasonal tourist bar became a thriving restaurant drawing business year-round. He continues to manage the oyster farm on Potter Pond, and he also runs free tours at the farm to educate patrons about oyster farming.

Oceanic Acidification: A problem in Rhode Island?

BRISTOL, R.I. __ After a brutal, record-breaking winter, Rhode Islanders and those who vacation here are especially eager to hit the beach once the summer weather arrives. However, something is lurking beneath the surface of the ocean that people have been daydreaming of swimming in for months.

Ocean acidification is not only making it dangerous to swim in the water, but is also making it near impossible for young shellfish to thrive. Carbon dioxide emissions in the earth’s atmosphere are being absorbed by the ocean, which has sent acidification levels skyrocketing.

We spoke to Save the Bay’s education specialist Kati Maginel about the importance of spreading the word about the dangers of oceanic acidification. She encourages people to volunteer and get involved with ocean preservation organizations.

Professor Andrew Rhyne who teaches Marine Biology at Roger Williams University led students in a research project on ocean acidification during the summer of 2014. He explained that it might may be too late to reverse the levels of acidification and save the young shellfish.

Along with Maginel, Roger Williams University student Laura Anderson, who worked on Rhyne’s research project, believes that it is important for people to know that ocean acidification is a real problem that is affecting our oceans here and now.

Maginel suggests that no matter what your interests are, you can find a way to get involved with fighting this issue. Those who are interested in politics can follow the environmental bills being discussed and implemented in your state’s government and those with other interests can look to join campus or community wide programs.

Oyster farming in Rhode Island essential to the economy

 

BRISTOL, R.I. __ Crack them open, squeeze a little lemon on them, and slurp down an oyster because in Rhode Island, it doesn’t get any fresher.

On Wednesday, students, faculty and members of the Bristol community gathered for Earth Fest on the Roger Williams University campus. Local vendors, student Eco-Reps and anyone passing through could suck down an oyster, pet Shining Star (a local cow) and recycle their clothing for new items.

Associate Professor of Biology Dale Leavitt was shucking oysters for people to enjoy, with fellow staff member and shellfish restoration Matt Griffin.

The seafood industry is one of the major sources of capitol for the state, but many residents are not aware of its fragility. The shellfish industry in Rhode Island makes up for 3 million dollars of the state’s economy, making it vital to the residents for creating jobs and revenue.

Over 50 oyster farms are stimulating the economy by ensuring that shellfish are still able to grow.

Oyster farming at RWU

BRISTOL, R.I. __ Oyster farming started over 20 years ago in Rhode Island in order to compete with overfishing in the bay and other natural causes for shellfish depletion. On campus, there is a shellfish hatchery as well as an oyster farm in the bay. Oysters are raised from larvae to full grown oysters, purely for research purposes. Oyster farming is vital to coastal communities where oceanic acidification has made it nearly impossible for shellfish to thrive.

“It basically causes decomposition and the inability to make the shell,” said junior and marine biology major, Tucker Hugel.

Now, most shellfish in the state of Rhode Island come from one of nearly 30 oyster farms. The oysters at Roger Williams University are used only for research of the faculty and students.

Water quality in Rhode Island: Where are you swimming this summer?

BRISTOL, R.I. __ Rhode Islanders will be heading to the beach this season, enjoying the miles of coastline and sunny sand that surrounds our state. But before you dip your toes in, you might want to know what kinds of bacteria are lurking in the water.

Below, we’ve inserted a link to a map of various beaches in Rhode Island that were sampled for water quality in 2013. The anchors represent each beach, and if you click on them you can see the amount of closures of that beach in the years between 2000 and 2013, based on data from the State of Rhode Island Department of Health. Beaches are closed to the public when the bacteria in the water is deemed unsafe for people to swim in.

https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/edit?mid=z0LkUPPSwOEg.krbROFHzA3BM

According to the State of Rhode Island Department of Health, the Atlantic Beach Club in Newport, one of the state’s favorite beaches, was closed 47 times between 2000 and 2013.

On this map, look at beaches you frequent and the data about each one. If there is unsafe bacteria levels from pollution and runoff, these beaches may close again this summer. Be sure to keep up to date with this information before heading to the beach, especially if you plan on swimming.

 

Nicholas Carr visited a campus of millennials: What is technology doing to our brains?

BRISTOL, R.I. __ What is technology doing to our brains? This is the question that author Nicholas Carr poses in his work.

Students silenced their smart phones in the campus recreation center of Roger Williams University on Monday night while author Nicholas Carr prepared to speak.

On Monday, March 2, Carr visited the Roger Williams University campus to speak and converse with students. Carr has written multiple books on the effects of technology on our brains, including “The Glass Cage: Automation and Us” and “The Shallows: What the Internet is doing to our Brains.” In light of this year’s common reading book, “The Circle” by Dave Eggers, Carr talked about the influence of technology on consumers. To an audience of millennials, the negativity of technology is not an easy sell.

“We look to computers and screens to be our mediators… and eventually to take over,” Carr said.

Carr used the example of inuits living in the arctic circle early on in his speech to show the impact of technology on our skill development. When inuit people known for their navigational and survival skills began to rely on global positioning systems, they began to lose their skills to navigate and track, resulting in multiple natural hazards. The technology intended to help them and make their lives easier was ultimately putting them in danger.

“What do we become as we go through this process?” asked Carr.

Two negative outcomes are often discussed as a part of substituting humans with computers. The first is automatic complacency. As consumers, we put complete trust in computers to do everything; from checking our spelling to flying our planes. In both cases, they make errors that result in hilarious messages or the deaths of civilians.

The second outcome is automation bias, where humans believe that the computer is superior to them and can not make a mistake. He argues that there is this tension between software developers and users, where the software designers want to make the consumer lives easier, but the consumer is losing essential skills.

“Technology centered design is robbing us of the encouragement to develop skills,” said Carr.

Carr suggests the alternative, human centered technology thats goal is to build on the existing skills of the user and keep them engaged. This way, people keep using their own skills and technology is simply there as an aid.

“It’s that sense of fulfillment we get when we overcome a challenge that gives us happiness and a sense of accomplishment,” said Carr.

Lawrence Lessig talked political corruption at RWU: What does that mean for our oceans?

BRISTOL, R.I. ___ On Monday, Feb. 23 author and lawyer Lawrence Lessig visited the Roger Williams University campus as part of the President’s Distinguished Speakers Series.

Lessig spoke to students and other community members about corruption in congressional campaign funding. By the end of the night, he had compared the United States Congress to the electoral system of Hong Kong, and the philosophy to that of Tweedism.

In Hong Kong, .024 percent of the population is responsible for the nomination of candidates who will run for office. In the United States, the number is exactly the same. The reason for this is campaign funding, where only those candidates with sufficient funds are able to make it through the nomination process. The main difference between the United States and China here is that the citizens of China are in revolt.

When the people we elect into office are filtered so many times, the actual impact that one citizens vote has on the election is miniscule.

When we think about environmental concerns such as oceanic conservation, this is extremely important to remember. To make actions to help our oceans, a candidate has to first raise enough money to get into the election. Their views are a minor factor compared to their monetary gains. A candidate with more money, but with little concern for the oceanic pollution in Rhode Island, might not make it into the election at all.

These are important things to remember, as Lessig highlights the real impact that the average person has on an election.