Part of Tampa Bay Watch’s Community Oyster Reef Enhancement (CORE) program, the oyster shell bag program creates oyster reefs similar to natural oyster communities found along shoreline areas throughout Tampa Bay. These bags give us 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.
How does it work?
Tampa Bay Watch works with local municipalities, government agencies, and other environmental organizations to identify priority restoration sites around Tampa Bay. Once a site has been identified, Tampa Bay Watch designs the best project for the location, secures the necessary local, state, and federal permits, and coordinates and implements the hands-on community-based habitat restoration projects.
Each project day, Tampa Bay Watch staff and volunteers gather at our staging area where the following takes place:
1. Shell material is delivered to the staging area
2. Volunteers are given a project briefing including instructions for accomplishing the work, as well as a safety briefing.
3. Work begins! We shovel the material in aquaculture grade mesh bags and load them into our boats or trucks for transport to the work site.
4. Bags are installed at the work to create a new oyster reef.
5. Everyone gets a workout, has a great time, learns something new, and helps improve Tampa Bay!