Savannah State needs volunteers to bag oyster shells for research reef

Bagging oyster shells for research reef
Bagging oyster shells for research reef
Published: Apr. 9, 2021 at 11:58 AM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Oysters are a vital part of the aquatic ecosystem, from providing habitat for marine life to filtering pollutants from water.

The Savannah State University Marine Science Research Center is launching a project to create oyster reefs off Skidaway Island and needs your help.

A giant pile of oyster shells outside the Marine Science Research Center on Livingston Ave. is being bagged to be used to create a reef off Skidaway Island.

“We need to place hard materials and substrates out into the estuary for little baby oysters to grab on and grow into a flourishing oyster reef,” Savannah State University Postdoctoral Fellow Dr. Matt Kenworthy said.

The research is funded by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources through a two-year Coastal Incentive Grant.

“Over those two years, we’ll monitor that growth of oysters, also monitor how fishes and crabs and shrimp are utilizing the two different reef types,” Kenworthy said.

One reef will be made of hardscape, eco-friendly material and the other will be made from hundreds of bags of oyster shells.

“I would say, we have gotten about a third to half of the pile put into bags,” Kenworthy said.

The SSU team is trying to pack 900 bags of oyster shells for the project and is calling for volunteers to help.

“Having a lot of volunteers participate kind of spreads the workload out. It allows the volunteers to get an idea of the operation itself and the different aspects of it,” Savannah State University graduate student Cameron Atkinson said.

They are using a mechanized shell loader and a more old-fashioned technique with PVC pipe. Your efforts will help the environment and give you a greater appreciation for your next seafood dinner.

“It can grow into a healthy reef, and then it provides more habitat for these commercially and recreationally important fishes that we like to target for fishing activities and also for harvest so we can have them on our dinner plate,” Kenworthy said.

Volunteers are needed from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday, April 10 at the Marine Science Center on Livingston Ave. Volunteers should bring work gloves, sunscreen, bug spray, and wear close-toed shoes and clothes that can get dirty. Masks will also be required.

If you’re interested in volunteering or to find out more, please contact Cameron Atkinson at (706) 767-7533 or by email at

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