Pathway to Recovery
Oyster crop being split into different bags to accommodate for increasing size.
The Apalachicola Bay System Initiative
Newsletter - February 2023
The ABSI mission: to gain insight into the root causes of decline of the Apalachicola Bay ecosystem with a focus on oyster reefs, and ultimately, with guidance from the Community Advisory Board and input from stakeholders and the public, to develop science-informed restoration and ecosystem-based management plans focused on the recovery of oyster reefs and the health of Apalachicola Bay.
News from the Community Advisory Board
2023 is upon us, marking the final year of the Apalachicola Bay System Initiative's Community Advisory Board (CAB). The CAB is exploring ways for a new group to stay connected to the project after this year and help implement elements of its Restoration and Management Plan Framework adopted November 2021. The CAB met on February 1st at the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve (ANERR). The meeting began with a CAB work plan presentation from Jeff Blair followed by a science update from Dr. Sandra Brooke, an FWC/NFWF restoration update from Devin Resko (FWC), and finally, an outreach and communications strategy presentation from Chad Hanson (The Pew Charitable Trusts) and the CAB Outreach Subcommittee.

ABSI strives to be transparent and to make the project's information and communications easily accessible and understandable. Please let us know how we can improve our communications, or if you have any suggestions on how to best reach members within our local community. Email Outreach Coordinator Maddie Mahood at [email protected].

Finally, Dr. Ed Camp, (University of Florida Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences), reviewed his fisheries model simulation results. Ed is an interdisciplinary scientist who focuses on the ecology and human dimension aspects of managing fisheries & aquaculture.

The entire history of the deliberations from each of the 25 meetings (21 CAB meetings and 4 Oystermen's Workshops) since March 2020, including copies of all presentations and meeting recordings, are available on the ABSI Community Advisory Board website.
CAB MeetingApril 12, 2023, 8:30am-2:30pm -- ANERR Multi-Purpose Room
This meeting will be held in-person at the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve (ANERR) facility if public health conditions allow (or held via Zoom if needed).
Members of the public are encouraged to attend and listen in. A public Zoom option will be available. There is room for public comment at the end of each meeting.
ABSI Shellfish Restoration and Research Hatchery Update
Close-up of first crop of spat.
Hatchery Technician Louis Lockhart measuring oyster crop to monitor the growth of oysters.
The ABSI Shellfish Restoration and Research Hatchery’s first crop of oysters are nearly market-size. Thirty-three thousand oysters were planted onto ABSI's open-water lease in August 2022 when they were 6 mm, and now they have nearly reached market size (75 mm) in as little as six months. These oysters have been used to supply multiple experiments related to oyster growth, physiology, tolerance, and predator response. Moving forward, these oysters will be used to supply restoration experiments investigating the survival of transplanted adults in different areas of Apalachicola Bay, the configuration and composition of restoration substrate, and the uses of cultured oysters in restoration. The hatchery team has been monitoring the growth and survival of this oyster crop closely to ensure healthy, high-quality animals for this research.

While this crop was growing on the lease, the hatchery team completed the construction of the algal systems needed to culture 6 different species of microalgae. These species will feed all life stages of shellfish produced by this facility. The algal system is a critical life-support system for shellfish production that will allow the hatchery team to grow live feed for the animals. With this system in place, the team will be able to increase the growth and survival of larvae in the hatchery. 

Furthermore, the hatchery will continue research and oyster production for ABSI restoration experiments. Planned experiments include investigations of conditioning adult oysters to facilitate out-of-season spawning. The ability to produce larvae outside of the normal spawning season will allow hatchery staff to supply spat for research all year long. Additionally, the hatchery is conducting an experiment on the settlement behavior of larvae and whether the presence of cultured oysters may facilitate increased settlement on alternative substrates. The results from this experiment will contribute to potential restoration strategies.
Figure 1: Shell growth (in mm) of 2022 oyster crop on the FSU open-water lease from planting in August 2022 to February 2023.
New Hires
Landen Millender and Hayden Mock were recently promoted from interns to full-time hatchery technicians. They are invaluable members of the ABSI team and we are so happy to have them!
Landen Millender
Hayden Mock
The ABSI team has developed a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) in collaboration with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). This is a working document, meaning that as more data and information become available, we will update the page accordingly. For questions or comments, please reach out to [email protected]. Thank you!

We are always interested in hearing from you so if you have questions or comments, please send them to our email address, [email protected].