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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For More Information Contact:
Ben Harkanson, 772-219-3055
bharkanson@conshelf.com

CSA International, Inc. brings SeaRobotics technology to the Oyster Reef Restoration project

Stuart, Fla. (October 1, 2009) - The Oyster Reef Restoration team, led by CSA International, Inc., employed a state-of-the-art marine remote sensing system, called an Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV), to collect the three-dimensional underwater depth information, also called a bathymetric survey.  

Working closely with a Florida-based company, SeaRobotics Corporation, that designs and builds these small, smart, USVs that are remotely or autonomously operated, CSA International, Inc. was able to utilize this advanced technology to produce survey data in shallow and hard to reach locations. "The unmanned boat is programmed with a mission plan and uses an advanced GPS system, accurate within centimeters, along with onboard intelligence to retrieve the information," said Don Darling, President of SeaRobotics.

The information obtained will serve a two-fold purpose: to identify existing oyster beds in shallow locations and to determine ideal placement for oyster bars that will be built offshore. Oyster bars will protect the oyster shell and plantings being placed along the shoreline, as well as help reduce erosion into the river.

"Had we not had this specialized technology, we would have had to access the areas with a boat or by wading, which would have taken longer and would not have yielded as much information," said Ben Harkanson, Project Scientist at CSA International, Inc. Using the USV, bathymetric data from the three sites was compiled in about three hours.

Armed with this information, the Oyster Reef Restoration project will continue the placement of approximately 30 million pounds of cultch (fossilized shells, coral, limestone rock and other hard materials designed to provide points of attachment for oysters) within the St. Lucie Estuary and the Northwest Fork of the Loxahatchee River to provide critically needed habitat so that oysters can repopulate the estuaries.

About the Oyster Reef Restoration Project

The Oyster Reef Restoration Project involves the placement of approximately 30 million pounds of cultch (fossilized shells, coral and other similar materials produced by living organisms) within the St. Lucie Estuary and the Northwest Fork of the Loxahatchee River to provide critically needed habitat so that oysters can repopulate the estuaries.
 
Oyster habitat is crucial to the health of our estuaries, effectively filtering nutrients, fine sediments and toxins from the water. Just one adult oyster can filter between 20 and 50 gallons of water per day. The newly constructed reef habitat, when fully populated with oysters, could filter the total volume of the St Lucie Estuary in about a month.

Oyster reefs also provide essential habitat structure for many other forms of marine life including shrimp, clams, crabs, snails and a variety of fish including gag grouper, gray snapper, redfish, sheepshead.

The project, funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, takes a significant step toward the fulfillment of one of the goals of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) and is being implemented by Martin County's Engineering Department.

In addition to many environmental and recreational benefits, the Oyster Reef Restoration Project will also provide economic returns by safeguarding existing jobs and creating new ones - ranging from marine construction to scientific research - within the community over the expected twenty-four month project period. Environmental improvements resulting form the implementation of this project will provide additional recreational opportunities far into the future. This project is an investment in the long-term economic health of the area’s recreationally-based economy.

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The Oyster Reef Restoration Project | 772-221-1387 | info@oysterrestoration.com

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