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Aw, Shucks! No More Oysters?

Our oyster reefs have declined nearly 85 percent. Now, at last, someone is doing something about it.

Hundreds of empty oyster shells dry in the sun. Later, they will be re-used to create new oyster reefs in the upper part of the Indian River Lagoon.

Hundreds of empty oyster shells dry in the sun. Later, they will be re-used to create new oyster reefs in the upper part of the Indian River Lagoon.

Oysters aren’t pretty. In fact, they are downright ugly. Gray. Slimy. And encased in a jagged, sharp shell. So why would anyone care whether or not these bottom-feeding bivalves survive?

Besides the fact that they taste delicious, oysters serve several important functions in coastal waters, including improving water quality and helping to prevent erosion. Researchers estimate that an adult oyster can filter a little more than a gallon of water in an hour. However, the Nature Conservancy, a national, non-profit environmental group, recently released a report stating that oyster reefs have declined by as much as 85 percent around the globe.

“And that’s a bigger decline than coral reefs,” says Michelle Peters-Snyder, oyster restoration community outreach coordinator with the Nature Conservancy in Melbourne.

Read the entire article in the Summer 2010 issue