Sunday, September 9, 2012

Building an Oyster Reef {community}

What do you do for your community?  Do you give back?  

You don't have to wear a red cape to be a hero.  I wore the ugliest toed water shoes in the world!!  This past Saturday, I joined local organization, PenderWatch as well as UNCW Marine Biology and Environmental Science students who also volunteered to help build two reefs at Mill Creek.  

Why are oyster reefs so important?

      1.  Improves water quality by removing nitrogen and other impurities.
      2.  Protect coastal ecosystems and marsh grass.
      3.  Provide food and habitat for birds and other marine animals.

Check out this informative video from The Nature Conservancy.

This was the last reef of twelve that PenderWatch applied for a major CAMA permit to build.  Jumping hoops, crossing fingers and a lot of prayer finally got the 29 signatures it took from state and federal agencies to approve the project.

There was a lot of work done that even I didn't see.  When I arrive Saturday morning all the shell bags were perfectly stuffed and tied with oysters and laying in a huge pile on the island.  All the rebar was cut and bent ready to drive into the ground.  In the past reef buildings Marines from Camp Legeune Engineering School lent a helping hand to move of oyster bags.  Through a lot of effort and energy PenderWatch's Oyster Shell Committee Chief and members have moved thousands of shell bags to build the 12 oyster reefs.

Below is the oyster bags that we used to build the reefs.  All around our community you will find "Oyster Recycling" stations, these shells are bagged and used to build oyster reefs in our local community to help improve our diminishing local ecosystems as well as our water quality.

The reefs are built like a pyramid in order to help absorb the impact from waves so that it can reach the marsh a natural manner.

(one) top bag
(two) middle bags
(three) middle bags
 (four) bags on the bottom 

Bottom-Left - The first layer of 4 oyster bags is laid.  Once a layer is down, rebar is hammered into the bags to help them stay in place.  

Bottom-Right - The 2nd to last layer has been placed (2 bags) and rebar is being hammered into it.

Bottom-Left - What you see are the top 2 layers, layer 3 and 4 are under the water.

Bottom-Right - Volunteers formed assembly lines transferring the oyster bags from the island to the water.

Pictured below is the finished product.  After 2 hours and about 30 volunteers we completed the two oyster reefs.

This was a great learning experience, one that I hope I get the opportunity to do again.  (Next time I'm bringing the kids so they can enjoy the experience.)  PenderWatch is doing an awesome job at helping our local community and I urge everyone to get involved!  No one is too young or too old!!!

A big thanks to PenderWatch for all their hard work.

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