Oyster Shells: Creating New Colonies

Day 246 – I have never eaten an oyster, but plenty of people enjoy the salty, slippery mollusk. However, they do so much more than offer a food source.

They play a vital role in habitat restoration with the growing understanding that oyster reefs purify the waters in which they live and create preferred habitats for commercial and recreational fish species. Oyster reefs help stabilize shorelines and mitigate some of the impacts of sea level rise while acting as a carbon sink in part by improving the water’s capacity to absorb excess atmospheric CO2.” – Oyster Recovery

So, it makes perfect sense that making sure these habitats are healthy and thriving would be a major priority. One of the ways this is being done is through discarded shells. The shells discarded by diners are being collected, cleaned and dumped into waterways around the country and the world, where they form the basis of new oyster colonies. Not only is this process benefitting ecological restoration, but it has kept 65 tons of shells out of landfills.

The oyster colonies also are being planted along coastlines as a shore stabilization and storm mitigation strategy: the bumpy underwater colonies can act as speed bumps for destructive waves headed for the shoreline, dissipating some of their energy.” – ABC News

Currently the oyster restoration and and shell recycling program are only offered in states located along the ocean shoreline. Hopefully, the program will expand across the country, where oyster shells continue finding their way to landfills.

Tomorrow, celebrating National Wildlife Day.

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