Vertical oyster gardens (VOGs) are made of recycled oyster shell from local restaurants, and are suspended from docks to create a hard substrate to which juvenile oysters can attach and develop. Vertical oyster gardens, oyster reef balls, and oyster shell bags are methods developed by Tampa Bay Watch for creating oyster habitat. Oysters are a food source for birds and fish. Many small fish, crabs, shrimp and other critters live among the oysters and provide food for large fish and wildlife. Oysters are natural filters, cleaning up to 2-5 gallons of water per hour. More oysters mean a cleaner bay!
Steps to hanging your VOG:
- Choose a place for VOG. Be sure to choose a spot with the most water flow and that has deep enough water to cover VOG at hide tide. Place eye screw in side of dock.
- Using a length of rope hang VOG from dock. To calculate appropriate height for your VOG, check your pilings and seawalls for oyster/barnacle growth. Try and match the height/depth of the best growth on these pilings or seawall. This is the optimal zone for your area.
- Be patient; it may take several months for oysters to colonize your VOG. If you are in doubt about whether the shells are hanging at the right depth, move them higher or lower in the water column, always trying to match the growth on adjacent areas.
VOGs are currently available to the public at no cost.
Email Rick Radigan with questions about this program: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Cover image credit: Dawson Green