Federal stimulus funds pay for oyster shells

Reported by: Carolyn Scofield
WPTV Channel 5
Email: cscofield@wptv.com

STUART, FL - Thirty million pounds of oyster shells are all bound for the bottom of the St. Lucie Estuary.

It's a project to help restore one of the world's most diverse habitats.

Oysters once thrived in the St. Lucie River, but most of the population disappeared in the last 50 years.

"For oysters to propagate, the larva, which is called spat, needs an attachment site," says Gary Roderick, Martin County's environmental quality chief. "The best attachment site is either other oyster shells or shell material."

The shells will create reefs in the river between the Roosevelt Bridge and Sewall's Point.

The project is being funded entirely by federal stimulus dollars.

A healthy oyster population makes for a healthy estuary.

A single oyster can filter 20 to 50 gallons of water a day, and oyster reefs provide homes for more 300 species of invertebrates and fish.

"When we think of grouper, snapper as just reef fish, they actually spend part of their life cycle in part of an estuary," says Mark Perry of the Florida Oceanographic Society.

More fish means more tourism, more jobs and more money for the area.

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

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