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OYSTERS IN TAMPA BAY
Community Oyster Reef Enhancement (CORE)
Tampa Bay Watch constructs two types of oyster communities in Tampa Bay under the Community Oyster Reef Enhancement (CORE) Program. The first type of oyster habitat restoration involves the installation of marine-friendly concrete oyster reef balls to promote oyster growth along man-made and altered shorelines of Tampa Bay. The oyster reef balls attract oyster larvae, and eventually become covered with mature oysters. These oysters provide water quality benefits through natural water filtration and the reef balls provide habitat for fish and wildlife resources. The second type of oyster habitat under the CORE program is the construction of oyster shell bars. This type of artificial reef is similar in structure to natural oyster communities found along shorelines throughout Tampa Bay. These oyster bars provide a hard surface for oyster larvae to settle upon and grow, eventually forming a natural reef.
There are two primary goals of the Community Oyster Reef Enhancement Program:
1. To provide and enhance marine habitat. Both the oyster reef balls and oyster shell bars are designed to promote the growth of oysters along human- created or altered shorelines of Tampa Bay. Once established, the oyster-covered reef balls and reefs provide water quality benefits, food for foraging birds and wildlife, and are an effective means of wave attenuation. In addition, the hollow reef balls become a refuge for crabs, juvenile fish and other marine life.
2. To provide environmental education and stewardship within the Tampa Bay community through hands-on community restoration. Tampa Bay Watch enlists the assistance of local middle and high school students and community volunteers who learn and participate in restoration efforts in their community.
Our two CORE programs include:
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