CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The Department of Life Sciences at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies and volunteers gathered to help restore an oyster reef habitat on Saturday, May 10, at Goose Island State Park in Rockport, Texas.
Volunteers bagged up reclaimed oyster shells and carried those bags to the water to build an educational oyster reef. This innovative project recycles oyster shells back into the Gulf of Mexico waters and creates a habitat where young oysters can attach and grow, ensuring an abundance of the mollusks for future commercial harvests.
The project is co-coordinated by Dr. Jennifer Pollack of the University’s Life Sciences Department and Gail Sutton, Assistant Director of the Harte Research Institute. Pollack, along with Sutton and Dr. Paul Montagna, developed the first oyster shell recycling program for the Texas Coastal Bend in November 2009.
“We are very excited to partner with Goose Island State Park again this year to create new oyster habitat using recycled oyster shells,” said Pollack, Assistant Professor of Marine Biology. “In Texas, there is no mechanism to return these important reef building blocks to local bays, so these volunteer events are an important way that we can improve oyster reefs in our own backyard.”
This program is the first in Texas to reclaim more than 300,000 pounds of shucked oyster shells from Water Street Restaurant, Niko’s Steakhouse, and Scuttlebutt’s Restaurant and return them to our local waters, providing both substrate to form new reefs and habitat for fish, crabs, and other organisms.
Volunteers received a free T-shirt for signing up and enjoyed drinks and snacks during the event. For more information, go to http://www.oysterrecycling.org/.