Volunteers Help Create New Oyster Beds

Plenty of people love oysters, but they're running out of places to grow. Oysters along South Carolina's coast need a little help to survive, and dozens of volunteers in Bluffton are pitching in this week, building new oyster beds.

Biologists from the Department of Natural Resources are spending this week putting together the new oyster beds around Beaufort County. "It does good," said the DNR's Michael Hodges. "There aren't any oysters on this shoreline, so we are restoring a population on this shoreline."

The new beds lie alongside older ones, where the DNR's slowly filling in the mud around the HE Trask boat landing. In just about a year, these new beds will sprout new, inch-long oyster shells just like the beds that were planted last year.

After a few more seasons, full-grown oysters will call the boat landing home.

Kids helping plant the beds say it's tough work, but worthwhile. "The sun was pretty amazing. It was pretty hot, but anything that's worthwhile is good to do, so I had a good time and I enjoyed it," said Charles Jackson of the Beaufort Marine Institute.

"It's good for them to learn more about the water and what it provides and how to keep it healthy," added volunteer Tim Smith.

The DNR needs volunteers for two more oyster beds they're laying today  at 1pm on Dataw Island and again at the HE Trask boat landing on Friday at 2pm.

Reported by: Chris Cowperthwaite, ccowperthwaite@wtoc.com