Our First Oyster Reef Becoming Living Shoreline Before our Eyes

CRCL’s monitoring team has been hard at work this summer monitoring the success of our Biloxi marsh recycled oyster shell reef! The project goal was to create a living shoreline that develops into a living oyster reef and provides protection to the surrounding marsh.

From the data we’ve captured, it is clear that the reef has attracted at least two distinct “spat sets” – groups of larval oysters that have settled on the structure and begun to grow into adults. The reef contains young oysters (under 1 inch) to sack size (over 3 inches). This range shows the reef’s ability to provide a perfect place for new oyster settlement and sufficient habitat that allows the smaller oysters to survive and grow into healthy adults. Settlement and survival are crucial to the long-term sustainability of the reef.

The Biloxi project isn’t just creating oyster habitat -- it’s also helping to protect the fragile surrounding marsh. Based on measurements during the last year, our reef has reduced the erosion rate of the marsh edge by nearly 3 feet per year.

However, the reef wouldn’t be possible without our amazing volunteers. Since 2015, CRCL has engaged nearly 700 volunteers in our shell bagging events in Buras, LA. These volunteers have dedicated their time and hard work to help us prepare over 400 tons of recycled shell for their final homes in living shoreline projects across Louisiana’s coast.

Dozens of volunteers have bagged a full ton or more and joined the 1 Ton Club, but this year, two teams of volunteers went above and beyond to become our newest shell bagging champions.

This year we kicked off the shell bagging season with our inaugural Shell Shoveling Showdown. This friendly competition between last year’s two top bagging teams—The Siren of New Orleans and Two Girls One Shuck--went down to the wire. In the end, it was Two Girls One Shuck who took home the “Golden Shovel” and crowned Queens of the Shell Pile. Check out the fun video we put together.

Join the fun and see if you have what it takes to join our 1 Ton Club. Visit CRCL.org to volunteer. We have shell bagging events throughout the fall.

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