Oyster Reef Restoration Project
Research ECA provided funding to Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) scientists to conduct investigations of environmental conditions within the Cocohatchee estuary, to guide site selection for the restoration of oyster reefs. FGCU has successfully restored living reefs in similar estuaries in Southwest Florida. The benefits of restoring reefs are well documented, including improved water clarity due to filter feeding of living oysters, and providing exceptional refuge for marine animals such as stone crabs, shrimp, and inshore fish.
Restoration ECA is now working with Matt Wright, an Eagle Scout candidate in Naples, and local Troop 2 of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), to support and sponsor a small-scale oyster reef restoration project within the Cocohatchee estuary, utilizing FGCU’s research results obtained from ECA’s sponsored study described above.
The restoration project involves three phases:
- Planning and regulatory review: The selected restoration site requires review by the State of Florida. Preliminary review has indicated that the project qualifies for exemption due to the small scale and public benefits associated with the restoration.
- Oyster shell bag construction: Working with volunteers from FGCU and BSA, Matt will lead work to fill an estimated 300 mesh bags purchased by ECA, with fossil shell donated by FGCU. The Pelican Isle Yacht Club will serve as the staging area for the restoration.
- Reef Construction: Scheduled tentatively for Saturday, May 31, Matt and volunteers from BSA and ECA will transport the shell bags via the Pelican shuttle (donated by the Pelican Isle Yacht Club) to the restoration site for construction. Volunteers will assemble the reef in an area measuring approximately 500 square feet by placing the bags on a shoaling area in the Cocohatchee estuary.