Oyster Gardening Program To Celebrate Accomplishments
By Space Coast Daily // October 31, 2014
will improve Indian River Lagoon Water quality
ABOVE VIDEO: Brevard Oyster Restoration’s Oyster Gardening volunteers are working hard to collect crucial data and grow about 1 million baby oysters. Here’s how it’s done. For more information, visit BrevardOysterRestoration.org
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – This November, Brevard Zoo and Brevard County are celebrating several major accomplishments for their Oyster Gardening program, part of the larger Brevard Oyster Restoration project aiming to improve Indian River Lagoon water quality through the filter-feeding power of native oysters.
For the past several months, more than 500 Brevard County waterfront residents have been volunteering as “oyster gardeners,” growing oysters and collecting data from their docks as a first step toward building new oyster reefs to help restore local populations.
Oyster collection events on November 8, 9 and 10 will mark the successful conclusion of the program for these volunteers, who will gather at Nicol Park in Port St. John, Rotary Park in Merritt Island or Long Point Park in Melbourne Beach to turn in the oysters they’ve grown.
ABOVE VIDEO: In 2005, Brevard Zoo partnered with the University of Central Florida to restore oyster reefs in the Mosquito Lagoon portion of the Indian River Lagoon. The reefs are created using a quilt-like pattern of oyster mats, which was developed by Dr. Linda Walters. Since that time, over 36,000 mats have been made and deployed, establishing 63 new oyster reefs, thanks to the help of over 36,000 volunteers. Brevard Zoo has also recently partnered with Brevard County to launch the Oyster Gardening Project.
These collection events will be held near the sites of the first three Brevard County restoration reefs, the locations of which were determined in part by data collected through the program.
At the events, collected oysters will be placed directly onto the reef sites, and Oyster Gardeners will be invited to participate in the reef-building process.
Each oyster settled on the new reefs will soon clean up to 50 gallons of lagoon water per day through filter feeding, thereby improving local water quality.
As one successful round of oyster gardening comes to a close, the program celebrates its expansion with the initiation of a brand new batch of oyster gardeners at spat distribution events on November 14 and 15.
Hundreds of newly-trained gardeners will gather at Blue Crab Cove in Merritt Island and the David R. Schechter Community Center in Satellite Beach to receive the baby oysters they’ll be caring for over the next several months.
Brevard Oyster Restoration will continue hosting training workshops for new oyster gardeners in 2015, and the reef building process will be ongoing. For more on Oyster Gardening, and to find out how you can get involved, visit BrevardOysterRestoration.org