Students creating oyster reef along Tybee Island’s shore

Published: Sep. 25, 2023 at 4:50 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 25, 2023 at 5:09 PM EDT
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TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - Tybee Island Maritime Academy students need your help filling this oyster shell recycling bin at Tybee Public Works.

“It takes the oyster shells six months to cure and that’s when we can start building the oyster reef.”

As eighth graders, that’s at the top of Sophie Suarez and Annie Windsor’s to-do list, creating an oyster reef along Tybee’s shore.

“One of the benefits is it does build a living shoreline which does help with the water,” said Sophie Suarez, student creating an Oyster Reef.

When Suarez and some of her classmates started this project in seventh grade, she says they learned that oyster shells not only clean the water but also help stop erosion.

“After a while, islands have just eroded away because of how much the waves are pushing it back so we’re going to try and stop that with Tybee and just try and help with the erosion and try and keep Tybee lasting longer,” said Annie Windsor, student creating an Oyster Reef.

That’s why they’re asking for the community’s help.

“We decided that we want to take some of the oyster shells from the local restaurants around Tybee and recycle the oysters.”

In May, they went to the Tybee City Council and asked them to create a place where people can recycle their oyster shells. The city delivered on that request with the help of the Department of Natural Resources.

According to teachers, two Tybee restaurants have agreed to recycle their shells and they’re hoping more will join the team. And if you live on the island and decide to have an oyster roast, you can donate too and help them help your community.

“I didn’t really look further into the environment and how much it needed help until I got to this school.”

A school teaching students how to make a difference.