Our Mission

Tampa Bay Watch is dedicated to fostering a healthy Tampa Bay watershed through community-driven restoration projects, education programs, and outreach initiatives.



Have questions about Tampa Bay Watch? We can help.

Stay Current

Sign up for our newsletter to receive updates on all the latest and greatest information.

Discovery Center

Explore our educational space on the St. Pete Pier, featuring interactive exhibits, daily programs, and a touch tank full of animals from the estuary!

Together, we can bring life to the bay.

It takes a community to make lasting change and protect the future of Tampa Bay’s ecosystem.


Volunteer Calendar

Check out all of our upcoming volunteer opportunities.

Become A Member

Are you passionate about protecting our waterways? Take a stand for Tampa Bay’s future.

Our annual events are designed to educate, entertain, and strengthen the community.

Host an unforgettable occasion at our beautiful waterfront event space.

Oyster Reefs

Creating oyster habitat for a healthier Tampa Bay

Once a thriving habitat for the Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica), Tampa Bay’s oyster reefs have drastically declined, from 2,000 acres in the 1940s to just 171 acres today, a loss of 85%. In response, Tampa Bay Watch initiated the Community Oyster Reef Enhancement (CORE) program in the early 2000s, aiming to restore these vital oyster habitats and rejuvenate the health of the bay.


Why oysters?

Oyster growth in Tampa Bay provides a number of measurable ecological benefits

Play Video

Check out the video above to see how oysters transform murky bay water into a clear, living testament to nature’s incredible filtering power.

Ecosystem engineers
The Eastern Oyster creates habitat for other mollusks, worms, crustaceans, and invertebrates.
Food sources
Oyster reefs provide diverse foraging areas for a variety of important fish, birds, and other wildlife species.
Natural buffers
Oyster reefs function as natural shoreline attenuation structures, protecting the shore from high levels of erosion during storm events or from increased ship and boat wakes
Bay filters
Oysters provide a natural cleansing system for the bay. Depending on size and health, they can filter up to 2 gallons of water an hour. They feed on suspended phytoplankton and algae and dispose of other particulates as psuedofeces on the sediments surrounding the reef. This often results in clearer water, encouraging increased growth and production of seagrasses.

Our approach

The CORE program is Tampa Bay Watch’s strategic approach to reviving our oyster habitats. By combining community involvement with scientific expertise, we create enriched environments for oysters to thrive. Utilizing oyster shell bags, reef balls, and vertical gardens, CORE enhances the natural habitats in Tampa Bay, fostering a more robust ecosystem.

Interested in the intricate workings of oyster habitats and their crucial role in our bay’s health? Click the links below to delve deeper into the CORE program and its impactful efforts in environmental restoration.

Shell Bags

 A key component of the CORE program is shell bags. These bags, designed to replicate natural oyster habitats, play a crucial role in restoring and enhancing Tampa Bay’s diverse shoreline ecosystems. Click below to discover more about these unique shell bags’ versatility and ecological impact in our community-driven restoration efforts.

Reef Balls

Discover the transformative impact of oyster reef balls and how they play a dual role in stabilizing shorelines and fostering habitats akin to natural oyster communities. Learn how these 200-pound marine-friendly structures combat erosion and enhance the ecological balance along Tampa Bay’s shorelines. 

Vertical Oyster Gardens

Vertical Oyster Gardens (VOGs) are made of recycled oyster shells from local restaurants and transformed into thriving habitats suspended from docks. These gardens allow waterfront homeowners to participate in our restoration efforts by creating oyster habitats in their backyard. With each oyster filtering 2-5 gallons per hour, VOGs help support diverse marine life and purify the water.