Volunteers build an oyster reef at Hunting Island - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Volunteers build an oyster reef at Hunting Island

By Jaime Dailey bio | email

HUNTING ISLAND, SC (WTOC) - Like fresh, local oysters? Well volunteers are doing some hard work at the Russ Point Landing on Hunting Island to make sure we all can continue to enjoy the local delicacy.

A group of dedicated volunteers from Friends of Hunting Island and the Beaufort Marine Institute worked together in the rain, passing 600 hundreds of bags of oyster shells down the shoreline.

Hunting Island and the Department of Natural Resources started the restoration project 4 years ago.

"We want our oyster shells and oyster beds to be around because it's great food and they play a key part of our ecosystem," said Hunting Island park manager Jeff Atkins.

"Oyster numbers are declining, historically they are declining but hopefully by doing this restoration project we can stay ahead of the curve and not encounter any major problems," said Michael Hodges, Wildlife Biologist with the Department of Natural Resources.

Building the reef, isn't easy but volunteers like Bonnie Wright are glad to do their part.

"I want to make a difference and so do many of our members want to make a difference," said Wright, president of Friends of Hunting Island.

"So I can to some extent make sure I participate in making sure the environment and oyster fisheries are protected and that we will have plenty of oyster to eat in the future," said Terry Stone, Friends of Hunting Island volunteer.

That's what they're doing, bag by bag.

"When oysters are spawning they have a free floating larva that is looking for something hard to land on and there choice is an oyster shell so by placing these bags, we're giving an oyster larva and oyster shell to attach to," said Hodges.

Oysters are good for more than just a meal. They provide food and habitat for other natural systems. They also help protect the shore line from erosion and help keep our waterways clean.

"They are nature's water filters," said Hodges. "They filter about two and half gallons of water an hour, a single oyster does, so it helps to improve our water quality, clarity."

They say just this reef alone will make a big difference to the oyster population.

"On average we probably get 400 oysters per bag so we are going to get a lot of oysters on this shoreline," said Hodges.

Hunting Island has several other man-built oyster reefs near the Nature Center.

©2009 WTOC. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Powered by Frankly