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Up the creek: Volunteers count sea life, clean Coney estuary

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Photo gallery

1/6
Bail out!: Dewey High School student Daniel Arueta dumps a bucket full of garbage he collected into a trash bag.
2/6
Many hands: Nicholas Garcia and Natalie Johnson of Edward R. Murrow High School work together to make Kaiser Park a cleaner place.
3/6
He’s a shoe-in: Terrence Anuku deserves the award for best creative use of a rake and shovel.
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Pearls before brine: High-schooler Uriel Aracena gets ready to plant oysters — shellfish known for generating pearls — in Gravesend Bay.
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So cute you could pinch it: Murrow High students Levonnia Hairston and Sierra Ferguson inspect an adorable baby crab during the annual fish census.
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Show and shell: Don Riepe of the Littoral Society shows a rock crab to Midwood High School student Sandy Chen.

It was a net positive.

Volunteers cleaned litter off the beaches at Kaiser Park and counted the species of fish in Coney Island Creek during It’s My Estuary Day in on May 30. Helpers hauled a lot of junk away, but they also left something behind — oysters.

“We seeded the creek by planting oysters loose in between rocks,” said John Dewey High School science teacher Lane Rosen, who helped organize the event. “We hope it will start to form a reef and bring more fish to the creek. This is the first time in 100–200 years there have been oysters in Coney Island Creek.”

Oysters and other filter feeders help clean the water and are often introduced as a first step to purify fetid waterways.

More than 350 students from area high schools and 50 Department of Education staffers lent a hand cleaning the beach, catching fish for a sea life census, and seeding oysters, Rosen said.

The cleanup in particular was sorely needed, one volunteer said.

“I felt like it was infused with garbage,” said Dewey student Terrence Anuku.

The kids netted and noted the different types of fish in the creek, and the Dewey robotics team showed off a swimming robot it built. Cultural Research Divers taught folks about diving gear, and the Coney Island Beautification Project planted native flowers and grasses. The interdisciplinary approach was meant to get kids stoked on the often stinky body of water, Rosen said.

“Its a very important mission to take care of the creek — it’s a tremendous resource that I don’t think we’re taking care of,” he said.

Beach combers removed dozens of bags of litter, but at least one piece of trash almost became treasure, Anuku said.

“I found a boot — it could have been my size, but I decided to clean it up anyway,” he said.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at mjaeger@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8303. Follow him on Twitter @JustTheMax.
Updated 5:43 pm, July 9, 2018
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