Oyster reefs are essential to a healthy marine system. Oyster reefs have important functions like water filtration, shoreline protection and a supply of habitat and food for other species. Globally, people have been experimenting with techniques that provide hope for the conservation or restoration of oyster reefs.
Goal of our project
This pilot project aims to restore oyster reefs by using the biodegradable BESE-elements as a temporary settlement substrate for oysters.
In April 2017, we set up this trial in Cedar Key. BESE-elements were placed in the intertidal zone at three levels. We used 15 controls and 30 structures in our monitoring process, which took place every 4-6 months in 2017, 2018 and 2019. The monitoring was executed with quadrants.
After 6 months, large oysters had settled on the BESE-elements. The BESE-elements structures contained 1000 oysters and a dry-weight of 10 kg oysters per m2. In contrast, the controls had zero oysters. Diverse invertebrates and fish assemblages were present in the structures. The results are the most promising in the low elevation levels. With moderate biofouling and high recruitment, BESE can support oyster reef development!