"To protect and restore the Florida coastal and Indian River Lagoon ecosystems
through education, research and community stewardship."

Checking on Chicken Island

Nov 15th, 2015 | Category: Blogs, MDC News, Oyster Restoration News, Shoreline Restoration News

   pipes1 Six years ago, Marine Discovery Center volunteers teamed up with Volusia County Environmental Management and the Nature Conservancy to conduct a pilot project  on Chicken Island. This unique little island in the middle of the Intracoastal Waterway in New Smyrna Beach, received a series of restoration methods to test their efficacy. The materials deployed at Chicken Island included oyster mats, oyster bags, concrete reef balls, and PVC pipes to house young mangroves. pipes3

Today, many of the restored reefs along the island’s perimeter are rich with shellfish, crabs, fish, and more. The concrete domes have become miniature reefs, and the oyster mats are entirely covered with new generations of oysters.

pipes5The PVC pipes, sunk into the center of reef domes to hold mangrove seeds, have not quite supported the mangrove forest that was intended. To ensure that these pipes do not eventually break off and become marine debris, a team of Marine Discovery Center volunteers and Master Naturalists headed out to the site to remove the PVC.

Armed with hacksaws, loppers, and serrated blades, the team removed over 75 PVC pipes from the project area in just over an hour. All the mats, bags, and reef balls were left in place, as they have successfully formed reefs. The enthusiastic team was treated to a gorgeous sunset and several dolphin sightings as they finished the final sections of pipe removal.pipes8

It’s incredibly important to revisit restoration areas and continue monitoring sites after the initial work is completed. This is the best way for us to learn which methods are most effective and which segments may require further attention or removal.

The pipe removal project was led by Florida Master Naturalist student, Tom Barratt. The Florida Master Naturalist Program, which spans six Fridays during the fall or spring, introduces participants to Florida’s rich coastal ecosystem. Through guest presentations, aquatic activities, and field trips, the group connects with native flora and fauna through hands-on, feet-wet experiences.

pipes9Each participant completes a capstone project, and this PVC-removal project was implemented along with a video about oyster restoration to complete one student’s Master Naturalist training. This was a shining example of how restoration, monitoring, and education can be combined for a unique community effort in our own backyard!