A group of Florida State University researchers is studying Apalachicola Bay's declining ecosystem and oyster reefs. They're called the Apalachicola Bay System Initiative. Earlier this year, the group put oyster shells and limestone into the Bay's waters as part of an experiment. Sandra Brooke is the Initiative's Principal Investigator. She says the experiment is showing a promising sign—baby oysters are settling all over the materials they've set out.
Scientists with the Apalachicola Bay System Initiative, formed under the guidance of Florida State University, are conducting research to identify the best options for improving the bay’s health and developing strategies to restore oyster fishing. The initiative involves commercial seafood harvesters and dealers, recreational guides and anglers, aquaculture business owners, and representatives from state natural resource agencies, businesses, local governments, and nongovernmental organizations such as The Pew Charitable Trusts.
Check out page 8 and 9 of the St. George Island Civic Club's Newsletter - The Islander! The ABSI project is featured with some great updates on our restoration project.
The Apalachicola Bay System Initiative (ABSI) hatchery team has had a busy spring and summer! The hatchery staff, Shannon Kirk (technician), Joe Rocco (manager), and interns Morgan Hawkins and Benton Jaco have successfully completed ABSI’s first oyster spawning and setting.
“So we are out here at Peanut Ridge, which is a reef in Apalachicola Bay.” Chris Matechik with the FSU Coastal and Marine Lab is driving a boat around experimental oyster plots marked by color-coded stakes. Oyster boats are pulling up between green-flagged stakes and dumping bins of rocks into the water...."We are conducting a series of restoration experiments, and so what we are doing is testing three different materials that might be useful for restoration on a larger scale."
The FSU Apalachicola Bay System Initiative (ABSI) is in the process of deploying oyster reef restoration experiments in Apalachicola Bay in two locations: Dry Bar in the western part of the Bay, and Peanut Ridge in the east. The objective of these experiments is to test the effectiveness and stability of three different materials; natural shell and two sizes of limestone rock. Over the past two days, the ABSI team has been working with local oystermen to deploy oyster shell and small limestone rock at Peanut Ridge. Next weekend, they will launch from Apalachicola to deploy these same materials at Dry Bar.
The Apalachicola Bay System Initiative is thrilled to welcome its first two hatchery interns, Morgan Hawkins and Benton Jaco. Morgan and Benton will be assisting ABSI’s Hatchery Manager, Joe Rocco, and Hatchery Technician, Shannon Kirk, this summer. Currently, the ABSI hatchery team is rearing young oysters to set them on oyster shell and then transfer them to the field (the Bay) where our scientists can monitor their growth and survival rates. This internship program is funded by the Lazzara Family Foundation.
Franklin County has launched a new pilot program in an effort to recycle oyster shells, according to a press release. The program, O.Y.S.T.E.R., or Offer Your Shell To Enhance Restoration, will recycle oyster shells from participating restaurants and use them in coastal restoration projects. Some of these recycled shells will be put to use by the Apalachicola Bay System Initiative.