Oyster reefs provide vital habitat to marine plants and animals and filter the water around them, but these estuarine habitats are in decline worldwide due to over-harvesting, coastal development, nutrient pollution, and disease. SCCF's Marine Laboratory and Coastal Watch program are working to study, protect, and restore Florida's oyster populations.
SCCF Oyster Projects
We recycle oyster shell from local restaurants back into our waters to build oyster reefs.
Our Marine Laboratory and Coastal Watch program work with volunteers and partners to restore oyster reefs using recycled and fossilized oyster shell.
- Analyzing potential oyster restoration sites by estimating their relative habitat suitabilities
- Studying how oyster beds change after being restored by taking key measurements before and after restoration
- Collaborating with university and government research partners to conduct scientific studies on oyster conservation
- Florida's native oyster species is the Eastern or Atlantic Oyster (Crassostrea virginica), which lives in brackish to salty waters in the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean
- Oysters are filter feeders, feeding on plankton by pumping water through their gills
- They are 'ecosystem engineers' because of their ability to grow in masses and form reef structures that host fish and invertebrates
- They build reefs through a process of larval attachment to oyster shell
- Each female can produce over 100 million eggs during a spawning event!