Billion Oyster Project

Collect Small Invertebrates from your Oyster Research Station


NY Harbor Populations Investigation



Class Periods




Subject Areas



In this activity students go out into the field to their Oyster Research Station (ORS) to collect as many small invertebrate animals as possible, in order to bring them back to the classroom for further study and experimentation.


  • identify invertebrates and vertebrates.
  • handle and transport organisms carefully in preparation for working with them back in the classroom.
  • demonstrate proper use of scientific field equipment.

Materials and Resources

Class Resources


  • bucket and rope
  • small plastic tank with lid
  • portable aerator
  • sieve
  • tweezers
  • pipettes

Before you get started

Tips for Teachers

  • Combine this trip to your Oyster Research Station (ORS) to retrieve invertebrates with the usual oyster growth measurements.
  • Use the Field Science Manual - Oyster Research Station for oyster measurement protocol instructions.


  • Be sure to test the batteries in your portable aerator before going in the field.
  • If you are concerned that your ORS may not yield enough invertebrates for your students to study back in the classroom, look on the BOP Digital Platform to see if there are other ORSs in your area.  If there are, feel free to reach out to the owner(s) and ask if you can pull up their ORS in order to retrieve organisms.

Instruction Plan


  1. Pull your ORS out of the water as you would for a regular oyster measurement monitoring. 
  2. Splash a bucket full of water over the ORS and shake it into the bin to get off as many organisms as possible.  
  3. Check the area for any organisms that might have fallen off during retrieval.
  4. Refer to the Field Science Manual - Oyster Research Station for more specific instructions about ORS retrival.
  5. Remove the ORS from the bin and place on the bin lid.  Leave the ORS on the lid for at least twenty minutes while you do your other monitoring work in order to allow as many organisms to fall off the ORS as possible.
  6. Working from the bin, sieve the organisms and separate out all invertebrates into a tank with a lid and portable aerator.
  7. Bring all arthropods and isopods back to the classroom.  If you also find shrimp and crabs, bring them back as well, but consider how many you want to bring back based on how well you think you can keep them alive.