I spent some quality eco-time one morning in January 2018 as a volunteer helping to prepare used oyster shells for recycling at the Florida Oceanographic Society's Marine Center over on Hutchinson lsland.
Oysters are critical for filtering water and a single adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day! The oysters provide food and habitat for hundreds of species, stabilize the shorelines and reduce erosion. This program has been assisting Mother Nature in the battle to restore the oyster population damaged by freshwater discharges into the estuary for more than IO years.
Some 2.5 tons of shells are collected from local restaurant partners incur area each month. The shells are cured in large bins on the Marine Center property and then bagged by volunteers to eventually be deployed in the Indian River Lagoon to replenish habitat reef areas!
Our group put together about 200 IO lb. bags thanks to an efficient and productive assembly line: two of the men stood in the huge bin raking the cured shells towards the edge where volunteers worked to direct the shells towards holes and into waiting mesh bags set below and held open by being stretched over 6" x 36" PVC pipes. Once filled, the bags and pipes were separated and handed off to those of us waiting to refresh the working materials and settle the shells snugly into the mesh bags to be tied off and stacked along the perimeter.
Phase two of the recycling comes when other volunteers deploy the gathered shell packages into the estuary to form new habitat and the cycle will roll on.