ROCKPORT, Texas - Researchers from the Department of Life Sciences at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies placed thousands of pounds of crushed concrete, rock and oyster shells in Aransas Bay and Copano Bay on Friday, Aug 30, in hopes that oysters will make their homes there.
"We put down the foundation, the building blocks, that small larvae oysters need to create new generations of oysters," said Dr. Jennifer Pollack, Assistant Professor of Marine Biology.
The project is coordinated by Pollack and Gail Sutton, Assistant Director of the Harte Research Institute as part of the "Sink Your Shucks" initiative.
Using barges, they worked to expand the current oyster reef in Aransas Bay adjacent to Goose Island State Park and in Copano Bay with oyster shells collected from local restaurants. This project is funded by the Coastal Conservation Association, Gulf of Mexico Foundation, National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
While only about 15 percent of the world's oysters reefs remain, Pollack says the Gulf of Mexico waters are in better shape than many areas when it comes to oyster populations. This is good news for the state of Texas, where oysters are big business. Aside from their purpose as a food resource, oysters also provide a lot of benefits to coastal ecosystems.
"As they eat they filter pollutants, waste, heavy metals, and things that can degrade our water quality," said Pollack. "This helps to create cleaner, clearer bay waters."
Oyster reefs also provide habitat for small fish and crustaceans, who are prey for larger sportfish. Pollack describes the oyster reefs they built as 12 mounds of complex habitat, 12 inches high, and 20 to 30 yards long.
"We are building them in this way to create a habitat that sportfish can swim around," said Pollack. "So we are trying to benefit not only the oysters, but the other organisms that could utilize it as well. "
About Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi: Offering more than 60 of the most popular degree programs in the state, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi has proudly provided a solid academic reputation, renowned faculty, and highly-rated degree programs since 1947. The Island University has earned its spot as a premier doctoral-granting institution, supporting two institutes and 13 research centers and labs. Discover your island at http://www.tamucc.edu
About the HRI: The Harte Research Institute, an endowed research component of Texas A&M
University-Corpus Christi, is dedicated to advancing the long-term sustainable use and
conservation of the Gulf of Mexico. Expertise at the Harte Research Institute (HRI) includes the consequences and long-term effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The Harte Research Institute is made possible by an endowment from the Ed Harte family. For more information, go to http://www.harteresearchinstitute.org
CONTACT Cindy McCarrier, 361-825-2336 or 316-871-0837 (cell); Cassandra Hinojosa, 361.825.2337 or 361.658.5829 (cell); Gloria Gallardo, 361.825.2427 or 361.331.5093 (cell)