Tampa Bay Watch builds stunning living shoreline to restore 2D Island in Hillsborough Bay

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

Tampa Bay Watch does so much to protect our waters. Part of their work includes these captivating living shorelines constructed of huge oyster reef balls. One of their most recent projects seeks to restore 2D Island in Hillsborough Bay.

Back in May, 5 tons of fossilized shell was delivered for Tampa Bay Watch’s restoration project at 2D Island. A group of forty volunteers shoveled the shell into mesh bags and moved them to Tampa Bay Watch boats to lay on the shoreline.

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The goal of 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.

Oyster reef balls stabilize shorelines and prevent erosion while creating habitat similar to natural oyster communities found along shoreline areas throughout Tampa Bay. Featuring abundant nooks and crannies, oyster larva attach all over and inside the oyster reef balls, creating a productive and enhanced habitat, as well as preventing erosion from threatening habitats farther up the shoreline.

The organization has also assisted in crafting a huge living shoreline along MacDilll Air Force Base, and another 3-year project has begun at Lassing Park in St. Petersburg.

The Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) was once abundant in Tampa Bay, with estimates as high as 2,000 acres of oyster reefs found throughout the estuary prior to the 1940s. Due to numerous human-related activities, it is estimated that 171 acres of oyster habitat remain, which represents an 85% loss in area. Due to this need, Tampa Bay Watch developed the Community Oyster Reef Enhancement (CORE) program in the early 2000s to help restore lost oyster habitat in Tampa Bay.

Learn about upcoming volunteer opportunities with Tampa Bay Watch on their website.

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