Volunteers as Oyster Gardeners

ID-100154534(Image courtesy of artur84 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

by Robert Barossi

Oysters are not just for making pearls and eating at raw bars. As the National Oceanic and  Atmospheric Administration points out on their page about oyster reefs in Chesapeake Bay, “Oysters are filter feeders, consuming phytoplankton (free-swimming algae) and improving water quality while they filter their food from the water. As generations of oysters settle on top of each other and grow, they form reefs that provide structured habitat for many fish species and crabs.”

These oyster reefs are also highly susceptible to pollution, reduced water quality and increased runoff. These and other factors can lead to the decline of oyster populations and the destruction of oyster reefs. Today’s story, out of Florida, describes how volunteers are helping to bring back oyster reefs which have seriously declined over time. Volunteers in the area have been growing oysters which are part of an oyster reef pilot program. If the program works and the oysters begin to clean the water, more reefs will be created in other locations. As the article mentions, the “oyster gardening” program could have wide-ranging and long-lasting effects, thanks in large part to the dedicated volunteers.

Check out more stories in my eBook:

Being Where You Are: How Environmental Volunteers Impact Their Community and the Planet Every Day

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