Houston Maritime Museum presents Oyster Reef Restoration in Texas
Oyster reefs are important components of healthy ecosystems within U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico estuaries. Oysters filter and clean bay waters, create fish habitats, and protect shorelines from erosion. They also provide recreational fishing opportunities and support a robust seafood industry, generating over $19 million in Texas in 2014. However, oyster reefs are severely degraded compared to historic levels, with estimates of over 85% lost. Sink Your Shucks -- an oyster shell recycling and reef restoration program -- works with restaurants and seafood wholesalers to reclaim shucked shells and return them to Texas bays to rebuild the habitat. Using these shells, we have restored over 14 acres of reef and engaged 1,700 volunteers.
Dr. Jennifer Pollack is an Assistant Professor of Marine Biology at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Her research focuses on conservation and restoration of marine habitats. Pollack also works with restaurant and seafood wholesalers to recycle oyster shells for restoring oyster reefs. The program, “Sink Your Shucks”, recently recycled its one millionth pound of oyster shells, which have been used to restore over 14 acres of oyster reef habitat in the Texas coastal bend.