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Artistic Oyster Beds May Improve Water Purity

Oyster Reef Model by Daniel McCormick

Oyster Reef Model by Daniel McCormick. Photo by Mary O'Brien

Environmental artist Daniel McCormick does not subscribe to the art-for-art’s-sake credo.

A recent grant recipient at Headlands Center for the Arts, McCormick, along with partner Mary O’Brien, are creating and testing reefs with the hope of restoring the SF Bay’s oyster population, which was decimated during the hydraulic mining days of the Gold Rush.

New beds are produced by harvesting clay from the bay, firing it in a kiln, and later planting them in the Oakland Estuary. The desired effect is to soften the force of waves and prevent erosion of marshland. If larvae attach successfully to the reefs, the bivalves (not intended for your plate) will serve as filters for cleaner water.

McCormick is a former protégé of light-and-space master James Turrell, so you know the installation will be visually spectacular. At low tide, you’ll be able to see the forms exposed as marine monuments throughout the East Bay Regional Park System. 


This article was published in
 7x7's November issue. Click here to subscribe.