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oyster reef balls

Part of Tampa Bay Watch’s Community Oyster Reef Enhancement (CORE) program, the oyster reef ball  program (formerly called “oyster domes”) uses reef balls to stabilize shorelines and prevent erosion while creating habitat similar to natural oyster communities found along shoreline areas throughout Tampa Bay. 

Above: an oyster reef ball before placement in the water (left), and after six months.

Thank you to BlueWave Boat Cleaning Products for funding the purchase of five new oyster reef ball molds which will allow us to build an additional 250 reef balls annually!

About oyster reef balls

Oyster reef balls are created using marine-friendly concrete, by adding silica and several other components. Weighing in at about 200 lbs. each, the oyster reef balls are installed in areas with high wave energy in order to stop erosion along natural shorelines.

Featuring abundant nooks and crannies, oyster larva will attach all over and inside the oyster reef balls, creating a productive and enhanced habitat, as well as preventing erosion from threatening habitats farther up the shoreline.

image: oyster reef balls

The journey of an oyster reef ball...

  1. Oyster reef balls are constructed on Tampa Bay Watch property by community volunteers.
  2. The reef balls are loaded on trailers and transported to a staging area near the project site. There they wait until enough are accumulated to have an installation event.
  3. Installation day! Staff and community volunteers load the reef balls into trailers and either direct to the shoreline or load them onto barges to be transported to the project location.
  4. Teams of two people carry the oyster reefs balls (using a galvanized steel pole) down the shoreline to its final destination.
  5. No gym membership required for oyster reef ball volunteers!

Email Eric Plage with questions about this program: