This morning I joined a dozen other volunteers to help create oyster balls at Tampa Bay Watch, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting our local watershed.
I had volunteered for an oyster reef restoration project back in Texas so I was curious to learn about Florida’s methods. The underlying problems are similar, oyster populations have taken a hit from over harvesting as well as pollution and other human-caused disturbances.
The main difference in this area is the amount of boat traffic in the waterways, from not only recreational vessels but also cargo ships and cruise lines. The oyster shell bags we used back in Texas wouldn’t stand a chance against the larger wake, which is where the oyster balls come into play.
The balls, made with marine-friendly concrete, are placed side by side in the intertidal zone and help dissipate wave energy. Oyster shell bags are tucked in behind the balls to add additional habitat (for oysters and other small sea creatures).
We carefully assembled 28 oyster ball forms and once they are cured they will be utilized in a restoration project at nearby Lassing Park. It was a wonderful way to spend a beautiful morning!