ABSI Restoration Experiments
In late May and early June, the ABSI team deployed substrate for oyster reef restoration experiments in Apalachicola Bay in two locations: Dry Bar in the western part of the Bay, and Peanut Ridge in the east. The objective of these experiments is to test the effectiveness and stability of three different materials; natural shell and two sizes of limestone rock. The ABSI team worked with local oystermen to deploy the restoration materials.
Currently, there are a total of 30 mini-reefs (15 at each location), each being 900 sq feet (~ 85 sq meters) and 1.5 ft (~ 0.5 m) high. This approach is different from previous restoration efforts that placed a thin layer of material over a large area. The team is hoping the elevation of these materials will increase survival by keeping the oysters up in the water column where they can access clean water and food. The reefs will be monitored for oyster recruitment (spat set), survival and growth, predator prevalence, disease and reproduction.
The team also recently planted spat in cages and biodegradable bags on the reefs that were spawned from Apalachicola Bay oysters and reared in ABSI's experimental hatchery. This approach of ‘seeding’ wild reefs has been used elsewhere but this will be the first use of hatchery spat-on-shell in Apalachicola Bay. If these spat survive and grow, they will help ‘kick-start’ oyster reef recovery.
A huge thank you to all who came out to help deploy these materials – the ABSI team is so grateful for your tireless effort, speed, and dedication. Stay tuned for updates on this ongoing experiment.