Your Donations at Work: SCCF Restoring Oyster Reefs

Oyster Rest-7693SCCF’s Marine Lab has been working tirelessly to restore historic oyster reefs around Sanibel and Captiva. Oyster reefs are one of the most threatened estuarine habitats in the world. Destruction from overharvesting, dredging to build roads and other structures, and pollution have resulted in the loss of 85% of historic oyster reefs in our estuary. SCCF is making great strides to reverse that loss and protect the estuary that surrounds us.

At the Tarpon Bay site, 56 volunteers working 300 hours joined SCCF Lab scientists who clocked in 46 full staff days on the restoration. Together they transported 63.5 tons of shell to make the reef – that’s 4,100 filled buckets carried on 32 barge trips.

At the San Carlos Bay site, 31 volunteers worked 155 hours alongside Lab staffers who gave 37 full days to the project. When completed, the reef they created contained 45 tons of shell, consisting of 2,973 filled buckets carried on 21 barge trips. Shells were from fossilized oysters, which were then covered with “green” oysters collected from three Sanibel restaurants.

“This is the largest and most well-documented oyster restoration project that has ever been attempted in southwest Florida,” according to SCCF Executive Director Erick Lindblad. “Two reefs were built entirely by volunteers and staff in Tarpon Bay and San Carlos Bay. Working together, it’s amazing what we can accomplish using lots of buckets, 20-ton dump trucks, and a pontoon barge donated to SCCF by Jensen’s Marina!”oysters-clean-waterSCCF’s work also included building a third reef north of the intercoastal waterway near Merwin Key. All restored reefs will be monitored for oyster density, reef invertebrates, water filtration and acreage size to document our success.

The benefits to oyster restoration are numerous – they are the “ecosystem engineers” of the estuarine world. They create complex habitats that attract fishes and invertebrates and serve as prey and habitat for many other animals. Oyster reefs also filter water, provide shoreline stabilization, enable seagrass growth, and reduce the likelihood of harmful algal blooms. Building these reefs is a great example of why our members support SCCF’s day to day operations.

We look forward to sharing more stories that illustrate how your operating support is making a difference. If you have not yet given to the Annual Fund Drive, please donate today. If you have questions, please contact Cheryl Giattini at 239-395-2768 or cgiattini@sccf.org.