OYSTER DOMES IN TAMPA BAY
Built Onsite, Delivered to the Bay
Also called Reef Balls®, oyster domes help replace oyster populations in struggling habitat areas. Originally designed to rebuild coral reefs all over the world, oyster domes have been an integral part of Tampa Bay Watch's restoration programs for years and have been previously installed along Bayshore Blvd., MacDill Air Force Base, and the Vinoy Basin in St. Petersburg. These urbanized, densely populated areas are lacking in natural buffers that help reduce pollutants from flowing off our streets and into Tampa Bay. But with the help of Tampa Bay Watch, the natural habitat is getting a boost—through oyster domes!
Tampa Bay Watch builds approximately 1,000 oyster domes each year in at least two large-scale projects. Oyster domes can vary in size, but most for our projects are 24” in diameter and 18” tall, and weigh approximately 100 lbs. They are installed along seawalls and shorelines to provide habitat.
Oysters need to attach to a hard structure to grow into adults, and the rough texture of the domes makes it easier for oysters to grow.
Oyster communities help stabilize shorelines, provide hard bottom habitats for fish and wildlife resources, and promote water quality improvements in the Tampa Bay ecosystem.
How Do Oysters Help?
IMPROVED WATER FILTRATION. Urban runoff can add high amounts of nutrients into the bay. Oysters—biological filters that can clean up to ten gallons of water per hour—will filter this runoff to help keep the bay healthy.
LESS EROSION. Domes weaken the strong waves that cause erosion, reducing the wave energy that reaches the shoreline.
NEW HABITAT. The holes in the oyster domes provide hiding places for fish and crabs. In fact, they help make it possible for small fish to hide long enough to become the big fish we like to catch!
FOOD SOURCE FOR FISH AND WILDLIFE. The rough, hard texture of the domes makes it easier for oysters to grow. Oysters not only help cleanse the water, but are used by other species for food. The oyster domes also provide a home for shrimp, crabs, and small fish that are eaten by larger fish and wildlife.
Ready to Lend a Hand?
Tampa Bay Watch builds oyster domes onsite at the Marine Center in Tierra Verde from September through April. 10 to 20 volunteers are recruited on weekday mornings to build domes.
The project involves pouring marine-friendly concrete into a fiberglass mold containing a large round buoy surrounded by smaller rubber balls, creating the holes in the oyster domes. Microsilica is mixed with the concrete to balance the pH so oysters are attracted to the domes.
It’s a dirty job, but it’ll make a difference for Tampa Bay!
Check out this video which demonstrates our oyster dome construction project.
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3000 Pinellas Bayway South, Tierra Verde, FL 33715
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