Tampa Bay Watch announces Oyster Shell Bar Project to restore 2D Island in Tampa Bay

large concrete oyster reef balls set along a shoreline in Florida.A sailboat is visible in the distance
Living Shoreline at Lassing Park

Tampa Bay Watch’s team of full-time staff and incredible volunteers work assiduously to protect our natural environment. On October 13 and 14, Tampa Bay Watch will install an Oyster Shell Bar around 2D Island. Back in May, 5 tons of fossilized shell was delivered for Tampa Bay Watch’s restoration project in Hillsborough Bay.

The organization needs volunteers to install this new oyster shell bar. The effort involves shoveling fossilized shell into mesh bags and transporting the bags to lay on the shoreline. This effort will help restore lost habitat by promoting new oyster growth, ultimately improving water quality and providing food sources and habitat for many species.

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This oyster shell bag program creates oyster reefs similar to natural oyster communities found along shoreline areas throughout Tampa Bay. These bags give Tampa Bay Watch the flexibility to create different shapes and sizes of oyster reefs in a variety of settings. Weighing in at about 35 lbs. each, the shell bags are installed in areas with lower wave energy but good tidal flow. Featuring abundant nooks and crannies, oyster larva will attach all over and inside of the bags, creating a productive and enhanced habitat.

an assemblage of oyster reef balls are set along tall grass on the shoreline of an island
Photo of a living shoreline project | Tampa Bay Watch

Install a new living shoreline in Tampa Bay

This October also means the community is invited to join Tampa Bay Watch and Audubon Florida for the 29th Annual Fishing Line Island Cleanup, which is set for October 15-23. The goal is to remove hazardous monofilament line from mangrove shorelines.

Monofilament or “mono,” is a fancy word for the commonly used plastic fishing line. It has great fishing utility, but can take over 600 years to break down and poses serious threats to birds and other wildlife. Improperly discarded mono and fishing gear leads to wildlife entanglement, accidental hooks, and ingestion.

This will be a self-led event, where participants will travel out to their designated location by personal boat/other watercraft any day between October 15-23 to target shorelines where cast line has been caught in the tree line. Volunteers will compile the recovered monofilament, to be collected, cleaned, and recycled.

A group of people surrounding a truck delivering more than 20 tons of fossilized shells.

Oyster Reef Ball installation at MacDill Air Force Base

One major Tampa project slated for October 28 at MacDill Air Force Base. Tampa Bay Watch is recruiting volunteers to help install oyster reef balls on the shoreline of MacDill.

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Note: This is a heavy project as reef balls weigh 200 pounds each. Two people will carry one reef ball at a time to install it on the shoreline. Reef balls stabilize shorelines and prevent erosion while creating habitat similar to natural oyster communities found along shoreline areas throughout Tampa Bay.

You can learn more about Tampa Bay Watch volunteer opportunities on their website.

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