Conservation Science Updates

Updated June 2, 2021
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Canaveral National Seashore Restoration

The conservation science department, along with UCF’s Coastal and Estuarine Ecology Lab, has been busy making oyster bags, volcanoes, and mats and deploying these materials in a variety of shoreline sites in Canaveral National Seashore.

In May, the team completed 2 weeks of intensive living shoreline stabilization using 1200 biodegradable oyster bags (made from metal) and 290 biodegradable oyster volcanoes (made from cement and jute) created at Marine Discovery Center and transported to Canaveral with the helping hands of many amazing volunteers.

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collage shoreline restoration

This project included the following…

1) 1050 feet of highly eroded shoreline stabilized
2) 1200 biodegradable shell bags and 290 biodegradable oyster volcanoes deployed as wavebreaks (extra thanks to volunteers who helped prepare and move materials)
3) 896 Spartina (marshgrass) plugs deployed
4) 258 red mangroves, 40 black mangroves, and 27 white mangroves deployed (huge thanks to the K-12 educators who help us grow all these mangroves!)

5) 80 field volunteers contributing over 480 hours of support
6) Boat support from Greg (CCA), Daniel (IRL NEP), Paul (UCF), Katherine (UCF), Gary (MDC) and Walt (MDC)
7) Funding support for project from IRL NEP, NPS, MDC and UCF

For more photos of the entire project, please visit CEELAB’s Facebook Page.

collage may 2021 group shots
oyster bag group shot
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BESE Mats and Oyster Reef Restoration

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In addition to the shoreline restoration deployments in May using metal bags and cement volcanoes, the teams from MDC and UCF are also making biodegradable BESE mats for use in oyster reef restoration deployments coming up this month. Volunteers have been busy threading oyster shells onto these mats (made from potato starch) with metal wire. If you would like to help with this project, we still have several volunteer workdays open to the public this month on June 3, 5, 8, 10, and 12 from 9 am – 12 pm in the covered pavilion here at MDC. No RSVP is necessary – just wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty and bring a reusable water bottle. Volunteers under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

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Visit to the Smithsonian Marine Station

In May, Conservation Science staffer Tess Sailor-Tynes joined research partners at the Smithsonian Marine Station in Fort Pierce to investigate microbes and microplastics entering the Indian River Lagoon through stormwater outfalls.

During her visit, she processed dozens of small filters that were used to strain microbes from stormwater samples taken quarterly along the 156-mile long estuary.

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DNA sequencing will be used to identify the bacteria, microalgae and other microscopic organisms caught on the filters and the results will be compared to sequences from microbes that hitch rides on microplastics drifting through the same water. This work is part of a larger research project designed to increase our understanding of how microplastics carry potentially harmful microbes throughout the estuary and into our food web.

Thanks to our partners at Smithsonian Marine Station, UCF’s Coastal & Estuarine Ecology Lab, and Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Indian River Lagoon Aquatic Preserve.

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To participate in our conservation science programs, you must first become an MDC Volunteer. Visit our volunteer page for information or contact Volunteer Coordinator Traci Trusler at

To learn more about our citizen science and shoreline restoration projects, contact Conservation Science Coordinator Jessy Wayles at

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