Discover Your Island

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Hosts Educational Oyster Reef Restoration Event at Goose Island State Park

May 08, 2015

OysterReefRestoration2013-350x232.jpg

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 are looking for volunteers to help restore an oyster reef habitat on Saturday, May 16, from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at Goose Island State Park, 202 Palmetto St. in Rockport, Texas. It is estimated that 85 percent of oyster reefs have disappeared, according to The Nature Conservancy.

Volunteers will bag up reclaimed oyster shells and carry 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.

“Oysters are important to our estuaries for a variety of reasons,” said Dr. Jennifer Pollack, Assistant Professor of Marine Biology. “They provide homes for a lot of crabs, fish, and shrimp as well as provide a food source for important sportfish.”

The program is co-coordinated by 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.

The program, which has been awarded grants by the Texas General Land Office’s Coastal Management Program to ensure the long-term environmental and economic health of the Texas Coast, is the first in Texas to reclaim more than 575,000 pounds of shucked oyster shells from local restaurants and return them to our local waters, providing substrate to form new reefs and habitat for fish, crabs, and other organisms. The restaurants donating shells are Water Street Restaurant, and Groomer’s Seafood.

Participants should wear closed-toed shoes such as old tennis shoes, clothes that can get wet and dirty, sunscreen, and a hat. Work gloves and shovels will be provided.

Volunteers will receive a free T-shirt for signing up. Drinks and snacks will be provided. To RSVP, call the Harte Research Institute at 361.825.2020. For more information, go to http://www.oysterrecycling.org/.