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

MDC helps restore two oyster reefs

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

IMG_3619On June 7 and 8, volunteers and staff from the Marine Discovery Center worked alongside teams from Brevard Zoo and University of Central Florida to restore two oyster beds in the northern Indian River Lagoon.

IMG_4955The sun was warm and the smiles were wide as the boats headed out to the reefs, located in Canaveral National Seashore. At the first area, called Togetherness Reef, the team raked down dead oyster shell that had piled up along the mangroves. The dead shells must be flattened down below the high-tide line, allowing access for floating baby oysters to settle and grow. We then placed oyster mats on top of the newly-contoured reef and secured using concrete weights.IMG_4942

Oyster mats are created by volunteers in Volusia and Brevard counties using oyster shell recycled from local seafood restaurants and shucking houses. Approximately 450 oyster mats were used to stabilize Togetherness Reef and ensure that loose shell would not continue to collect along the shoreline. The UCF team will visit the restored reef on a regular basis, monitoring the growth of new oysters and other organisms on the mats.

IMG_4971At the second site, we found another ‘dead margin’ of loose shell piling up along an existing oyster reef, threatening to cover the live oysters. The team set to work scouring the dead margin for any surviving live oysters, which were manually relocated to the living reef before raking began.

In a race against the rising tide, the hard-working crew flattened the pile of dead shells and again began placing oyster mats on top of the reef. By attaching oyster mats to one another on top of the dead shells, we can create one cohesive flat reef that will attract new growth and provide complex habitat in the inter-tidal zone. This site will be completed on another day, as the tide eventually rose too high for us to finish the entire area. IMG_4947

The restoration team was covered in mud and sweat, but still smiling from the morning’s work. It takes a lot of teamwork to complete these projects, from collecting the oyster shells to creating oyster mats, preparing the site and deploying the new reef. To get involved in the Shuck and Share oyster recycling project, call 386-428-4828 or contact Jessy@marinediscoverycenter.org. We look forward to seeing you on the water soon!