The Shells for Shorelines program is a collaborative initiative with the Gulf Region Oyster Network. This program, generously funded by Duke Energy, Neptune Flood, and a $1,141,971 grant through NOAA and Restore America’s Estuaries, is already making waves in the community by recycling oyster shells from local restaurants to restore critical oyster reef habitats in Tampa Bay.
Sustainable Recycling: Transforming discarded oyster shells from local restaurants into valuable ecological assets.
Habitat Restoration: Utilizing recycled shells to rejuvenate oyster reef habitats essential to the bay’s ecosystem.
Proven Success: Since launching the pilot phase of the project in February 2022, Shells for Shorelines has seen proven success with seven restaurant test sites, and has recycled over 102,000 pounds of oyster shells so far.
How it Works
- Shell Collection: Restaurants save used oyster shells in designated 5-gallon buckets provided by Tampa Bay Watch.
- Shell Retrieval: Tampa Bay Watch staff and volunteers collect these shells from participating restaurants.
- Cleaning Process: The shells are transported to Tampa Bay Watch’s specialized cleaning and curing station at Fort De Soto to cure for a minimum of 90 days..
- Ecosystem Integration: The cured shells are used to create shell bags and vertical oyster gardens distributed throughout Tampa Bay estuary.
Biodiversity: Oyster reefs are a sanctuary for various marine species.
Food Chain Support: They serve as a vital food source for larger aquatic life.
Erosion Control: Oyster reefs naturally mitigate coastal erosion.
Water Quality: The reefs contribute to water filtration, promoting clearer water and flourishing seagrasses.