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.
By the end of the deployments, a total of 30 mini-reefs (15 at each location) will be deployed, each will be 900 sq feet (~ 85 sq meters) and 1.5 ft (~ 0.5 m) high. This approach is different from previous restoration efforts that placed a thin layer of material over a large area. The team is hoping the elevation of these materials will increase survival by keeping the oysters up in the water column where they can access clean water and food. The reefs will be monitored for oyster recruitment (spat set), survival and growth, predator prevalence, disease and reproduction. The ABSI team will also be looking at the survival of spat reared in the ABSI hatchery from Apalachicola Bay oysters and planted on the reefs. This approach of ‘seeding’ wild reefs has beenused elsewhere but this will be the first use of hatchery spat-on-shell in Apalachicola Bay.
A huge thank you to everyone who came out to help deploy these materials – the ABSI team is so grateful for your tireless effort, speed, and dedication! Stay tuned for updates on this ongoing project.
Listen to WFSU's coverage of this project here.