If we've learned anything in the past year it's that oysters play an ecologically invaluable role in protecting our waterways, a role we desperately missed when Hurricane Sandy unloaded her gigantic storm surge on our shores. The Hudson River Foundation appreciates oysters' importance to our rivers and thus embarked on an initiative to restore oyster populations to the Bronx River, which has suffered from extreme pollution since the '70s.

The Times follows students from the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School, which operates out of Governor's Island, as they transferred 100,000 farm-raised baby oysters to a one-acre man-made reef just off Soundview Park in the hopes of reestablishing the bivalves' presence in the troubled waterway.

The South Bronx reef joins similar efforts by other nonprofit groups who have been cultivating "oyster gardens" in an attempt to nurture the oyster population all over the city. The New York Harbor School aims to raise over a billion "spat-on-shell" (baby) oysters for similar restoration projects, which not only clean the water and provide habitats for smaller fish but could also help protect against future storm surges in an environmentally-friendly way.

It's all the more reason to attend Thursday's Brooklyn on the Half Shell event, as 100% of ticket sales benefit the New York Harbor School and their efforts to support our waterways. While it may seem counterintuitive to consume the very animals the groups are trying to grow, keep in mind that they beautiful bivalves were (thankfully) not raised in the Bronx River.