Oyster reef

The term oyster reef refers to dense aggregations of oysters that form large colonial communities. Because oyster larvae need to settle on hard substrates, new oyster reefs may form on stone or other hard marine debris. Eventually the oyster reef will propagate by spat settling on the shells of older or nonliving oysters. The dense aggregations of oysters are often referred to as an oyster reef, oyster bed, oyster bank, oyster bottom, or oyster bar interchangeably. These terms are not well defined and often regionally restricted.

Oyster reef Hunting Island SC
Oyster reef at about mid-tide off fishing pier at Hunting Island State Park, South Carolina

Degradation of oyster reefs

Crassostrea virginica, the eastern oyster, was a major reef builder in the Chesapeake Bay until the late 19th century. Because of overfishing, environmental degradation, and disease, populations of C. virginica underwent a drastic reduction in population size.[1] There is an established pattern connecting human fishing practices to oyster population collapse across the globe. Besides the collapse of C. virginica reefs on the east coast of the United States, populations of the Olympia oyster, Ostrea lurida, on the western coast of the United States and the Sydney rock oyster, Saccostrea glomerata, of eastern Australia have both been heavily impacted by harmful fishing practices.[2]

Oyster reef ecology

Natural oyster reefs are composed of living and dead oyster shells and provides important habitats for various species.[1] For example, the complex three-dimensional interstitial spaces within oyster reefs provide refugia for prey or juvenile species, which increases prey biomass and thereby enhances trophic transfer. Oyster reefs also stabilize shorelines by promoting sediment deposition and buffering wave energy, thereby allowing other habitats such as sea grass beds and marsh areas to form while simultaneously decreasing erosion of the shoreline.[3][4][5][6]

Ecosystem services

The filter feeding behavior of oysters can buffer against environmental degradation caused by human induced eutrophication of estuary systems. Oysters feed on suspended phytoplankton and other organic matter. Disruption of the filter feeding by oysters can lead to a decrease in the elimination of organic matter from the water column and increase phytoplankton abundance. This in turn may lead to seasonal anoxia, which could increase mortality for other estuary animals, such as fish.[1]

Oyster reefs can also impact the carbon sequestration and excess nutrient uptake. Oyster reefs also stabilize shorelines by promoting sediment deposition and buffering wave energy, thereby allowing other habitats such as sea grass beds and marsh areas to form while simultaneously decreasing erosion of the shoreline.[3][4][5][6]


The topic of oyster reef restoration has gained more attention and support over recent years. Oyster reef restoration projects often place the sanitized shells of dead oysters, concrete, or limestone pieces on a soft bottom to encourage oyster spat settlement.[4] Benefits to restoring these habitats includes suppressing phytoplankton blooms via increasing filter feeding behavior,[7] increase nutrient sequestration and dentrification rates,[8] increase nekton biomass, and potentially increase commercial fishery value.[9] However, finding data on previously implemented restoration projects can be difficult to access, thereby hindering future restoration efforts.[10]

See also

  • Rudists – extinct group of major reef-building bivalves in the Mesozoic Era


  1. ^ a b c Kirby, Michael X.; Miller, Henry M. (1 March 2005). "Response of a benthic suspension feeder (Crassostrea virginica Gmelin) to three centuries of anthropogenic eutrophication in Chesapeake Bay". Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. 62 (4): 679–689. doi:10.1016/j.ecss.2004.10.004.
  2. ^ Kirby, Michael (2004). "Fishing down the coast: Historical expansion and collapse of oyster fisheries along continental margins". PNAS. 101 (35): 13096–13099. doi:10.1073/pnas.0405150101. PMC 516522. PMID 15326294.
  3. ^ a b La Peyre, M. K.; Furlong, J.; Brown, L. A.; Piazza, B. P.; Brown, K. (2014). "Oyster reef restoration in the northern Gulf of Mexico: extent, methods, and outcomes". Ocean & Coastal Management. 89: 20–28. doi:10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2013.12.002.
  4. ^ a b c Brown, L. A.; Furlong, J. N.; Brown, K. M.; La Pyre, M. K. (2014). "Oyster reef restoration in the northern Gulf of Mexico: effect and artificial substrate and age on nekton and benthic macroinvertebrate assemblage use". Restoration Ecology. 22 (2): 213–222. doi:10.1111/rec.12071.
  5. ^ a b Dillon, K. S.; Peterson, M. S.; May, C. A. (2015). "Functional equivalence of constructed and natural intertidal eastern oyster reef habitats in a northern Gulf of Mexico estuary". Marine Ecology Progress Series. 528: 187–203. doi:10.3354/meps11269.
  6. ^ a b George, L. M.; De Santiago, K.; Palmer, T. A.; Pollack, J. B. (2015). "Oyster reef restoration: effect of alternative substrates on oyster recruitment and nekton habitat use". Journal of Coastal Conservation. 19: 13–22. doi:10.1007/s11852-014-0351-y.
  7. ^ Gedan, Keryn B.; Kellogg, Lisa; Breitburg, Denise L. (1 July 2014). "Accounting for Multiple Foundation Species in Oyster Reef Restoration Benefits". Restoration Ecology. 22 (4): 517–524. doi:10.1111/rec.12107. ISSN 1526-100X.
  8. ^ Kellogg, M. Lisa; Cornwell, Jeffrey C.; Owens, Michael S.; Paynter, Kennedy T. (22 April 2013). "FEATURE ARTICLE Denitrification and nutrient assimilation on a restored oyster reef". Marine Ecology Progress Series. 480: 1–19. doi:10.3354/meps10331.
  9. ^ Humphries, Austin T.; Peyre, Megan K. La (25 August 2015). "Oyster reef restoration supports increased nekton biomass and potential commercial fishery value". PeerJ. 3: e1111. doi:10.7717/peerj.1111. PMC 4556142. PMID 26336635.
  10. ^ La Peyre, Megan; Furlong, Jessica; Brown, Laura A.; Piazza, Bryan P.; Brown, Ken (1 March 2014). "Oyster reef restoration in the northern Gulf of Mexico: Extent, methods and outcomes". Ocean & Coastal Management. 89: 20–28. doi:10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2013.12.002.

Aquaculture (less commonly spelled aquiculture), also known as aquafarming, is the farming of fish, crustaceans, molluscs, aquatic plants, algae, and other organisms. Aquaculture involves cultivating freshwater and saltwater populations under controlled conditions, and can be contrasted with commercial fishing, which is the harvesting of wild fish. Mariculture refers to aquaculture practiced in marine environments and in underwater habitats.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), aquaculture "is understood to mean the farming of aquatic organisms including fish, molluscs, crustaceans and aquatic plants. Farming implies some form of intervention in the rearing process to enhance production, such as regular stocking, feeding, protection from predators, etc. Farming also implies individual or corporate ownership of the stock being cultivated." The reported output from global aquaculture operations in 2014 supplied over one half of the fish and shellfish that is directly consumed by humans; however, there are issues about the reliability of the reported figures. Further, in current aquaculture practice, products from several pounds of wild fish are used to produce one pound of a piscivorous fish like salmon.Particular kinds of aquaculture include fish farming, shrimp farming, oyster farming, mariculture, algaculture (such as seaweed farming), and the cultivation of ornamental fish. Particular methods include aquaponics and integrated multi-trophic aquaculture, both of which integrate fish farming and aquatic plant farming.

Callawassie Island

Callawassie Island is one of hundreds of barrier and sea islands in the southeast corner in the outer coastal plain, making up a portion of Beaufort County, South Carolina.Callawassie Island is centrally located 17 miles (27 km) southwest of Beaufort, South Carolina, 30 miles (48 km) northeast of Savannah, Georgia, and 275 miles (443 km) southeast of Atlanta, Georgia. The island is ten to twelve miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean in the estuarial system of the Port Royal Sound and is entirely surrounded by salt marshes and tidal creeks. Access to Callawassie is by a half mile causeway, one mile south of SC 170, or by boat via the deep waters of the Colleton River. The island's 880 acres (360 ha) are nestled at the confluence of the Callawassie Creek and the Little Chechessee, Okatie, and Colleton Rivers. With five miles of waterfront on the salt marshes of the Port Royal Sound Basin, Callawassie Island is a major supporter of the state-of-the-art Maritime Center, run by the Port Royal Sound Foundation located on Lemon Island.

Archeological and site surveys reveal that the island was inhabited approximately 4,000 years ago. In 1897, archeologists discovered prehistoric burial mounds. 102 sites have been identified and added to the National Register of Historic Places since then. The island is also home to the Callawassie Sugar Works (Sugar Mill Tabby Ruins), the only sugar mill ruins known to exist in South Carolina.In 2006, Callawassie Island was designated as South Carolina's first Community Wildlife Habitat (the 15th in the nation) with more than 200 residences being certified as Backyard Wildlife Habitats.The owners of 717 homes and home sites have access to 33 lagoons, three parks, one butterfly garden, and three rookeries, as well as a 27-hole golf course designed by Tom Fazio, six Har-Tru tennis courts, two pools, two clubhouses, two kayak launch docks, and three community fishing/crabbing docks, which also provide boat slips for both long-term and daily dockage.

Estero River (Florida)

The Estero River is a 6.4-mile-long (10.3 km) waterway in south Lee County, Florida, United States, near the census-designated place of Estero. It flows from east to west, emptying into Estero Bay, an inlet of the Gulf of Mexico.


Eutrophication (from Greek eutrophos, "well-nourished"), or hypertrophication, is when a body of water becomes overly enriched with minerals and nutrients which induce excessive growth of algae. This process may result in oxygen depletion of the water body. One example is an "algal bloom" or great increase of phytoplankton in a water body as a response to increased levels of nutrients. Eutrophication is often induced by the discharge of nitrate or phosphate-containing detergents, fertilizers, or sewage into an aquatic system.

Grand Isle, Louisiana

Grand Isle (French: Grande-Île) is a town in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, United States, located on a barrier island of the same name in the Gulf of Mexico. The island is at the mouth of Barataria Bay where it meets the gulf. As of the 2010 census, the town's resident population was 1,296, down from 1,541 in 2000; during summers, the population, including tourists and seasonal residents, sometimes increases to over 20,000. Grand Isle is statistically part of the New Orleans−Metairie−Kenner Metropolitan Statistical Area, though it is not connected to New Orleans' continuous urbanized area.

Grand Isle's main street is the seaside start of Louisiana Highway 1 (LA 1), which stretches 436.2 miles (702.0 km) away to the northwest corner of the state, ending near Shreveport. LA 1's automobile causeway at the west end of the island is the only land access to or from Grand Isle.

Direct access to Grand Isle's seat of parish government is 95 miles (153 km) away in suburban Jefferson Parish.

Great Wicomico River

The Great Wicomico River is a 15.2-mile-long (24.5 km) river in the U.S. state of Virginia, located approximately 60 miles (97 km) northeast of Richmond. In 1864, during the American Civil War, one of the torpedo boats of Admiral David Dixon Porter's fleet ran into the Great Wicomico River and was captured.

H. J. High Construction

H. J. High Construction is a construction company headquartered in Orlando, Florida and licensed in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

Harlem River

The Harlem River is an 8-mile (13 km) tidal strait flowing between the Hudson River and the East River and separating the island of Manhattan from the Bronx on the New York mainland.

The northern stretch, also called the Spuyten Duyvil ("spewing devil") Creek, has been significantly altered for navigation purposes. Originally it curved around the north of Marble Hill, but in 1895 the Harlem River Ship Canal was dug between Manhattan and Marble Hill, and in 1914 the original course was filled in.

Hypoxia (environmental)

Hypoxia refers to low oxygen conditions. Normally, 20.9% of the gas in the atmosphere is oxygen. The partial pressure of oxygen in the atmosphere is 20.9% of the total barometric pressure. In water, oxygen levels are much lower, approximately 1%, and fluctuate locally depending on the presence of photosynthetic organisms and relative distance to the surface (if there is more oxygen in the air, it will diffuse across the partial pressure gradient).

Lavaca Bay

Lavaca Bay ( (listen)) is a northwestern extension of the Matagorda Bay system found mostly in Calhoun County, Texas, United States. The ports of Port Lavaca and Point Comfort have been established on the bay, and are the main areas of human habitation. Linnville was located on the bay until its abandonment after the Great Raid of 1840, and the major port of Indianola was found near the confluence with the main Matagorda Bay, until the town's final destruction following the massive hurricane of 1886. Smaller communities include Olivia, Alamo Beach and Magnolia Beach. Lavaca Bay is approximately 82 miles (130 km) northeast of Corpus Christi, about 121 miles (190 km) southwest of Houston, and 145 miles (230 km) southeast of San Antonio.

The bay is noted for its superfund site, caused by mercury pollution from the heavy industry in Point Comfort (specifically Alcoa), across the bay from the largest settlement of Port Lavaca. Although fishing has declined in recent years due to fears of contamination, the bay supports a large finfish population, and the efforts of environmental organizations and the federal government have pressured Alcoa to reduce the polluted areas.

Living shorelines

Living shorelines are a relatively new approach for addressing shoreline erosion and protecting marsh areas. Unlike traditional structures such as bulkheads or seawalls that worsen erosion, living shorelines incorporate as many natural elements as possible which create more effective buffers in absorbing wave energy and protecting against shoreline erosion. The process of creating a living shoreline is referred to as soft engineering, which utilizes techniques that incorporate ecological principles in shoreline stabilization. The natural materials used in the construction of living shorelines create and maintain valuable habitats. Structural and organic materials commonly used in the construction of living shorelines include sand, wetland plants, sand fill, oyster reefs, submerged aquatic vegetation, stones and coir fiber logs.

Mississippi River–Gulf Outlet Canal

The Mississippi River – Gulf Outlet Canal (abbreviated as MRGO or MR-GO) is a 76 mi (122 km) channel constructed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers at the direction of Congress in the mid-20th century that provided a shorter route between the Gulf of Mexico and New Orleans' inner harbor Industrial Canal via the Intracoastal Waterway. In 2005, although disputed by the Corps of Engineers, the MRGO channeled Hurricane Katrina's storm surge into the heart of Greater New Orleans, contributing significantly to the subsequent multiple engineering failures experienced by the region's hurricane protection network. In the aftermath the channel was closed. A permanent storm surge barrier was constructed in the MRGO in 2009, and the channel has been closed to maritime shipping.

The MRGO begins just west of I-510's crossing of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway in New Orleans East and takes a path SSE through St. Bernard Parish wetlands just west of Lake Borgne to the Gulf of Mexico near Gardner Island. Much criticized for its negative environmental effects, such as saltwater intrusion, wetlands erosion and storm surge amplification during Hurricane Katrina, the MRGO was closed in 2009. Maritime traffic was barred on April 22, 2009.

Mosquito Lagoon

Mosquito Lagoon is a body of water located on the east coast of Florida in Brevard and Volusia counties. It is part of the Indian River Lagoon system and the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. It extends from the Ponce de Leon Inlet to a point north of Cape Canaveral, and connects to the Indian River via the Haulover Canal. The Mosquito Lagoon Aquatic Preserve includes 4,740 acres (1,920 ha) in the northern end of the lagoon. The preserve originally extended to the southern end of the lagoon, but close to two-thirds of the preserve in the central and southern lagoon were transferred to the Federal government, and is now part of the Canaveral National Seashore. The cities of New Smyrna Beach and Edgewater, the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and the Kennedy Space Center adjoin the lagoon.Mosquito Lagoon is an acclaimed spotted seatrout fishing habitat and a well-known destination for birdwatchers and nature tours.

The Nature Conservancy is coordinating an oyster restoration project, developed by the University of Central Florida. The goal is to restore about 40 acres (160,000 m2) of oyster reef habitat within the Canaveral National Seashore.

Winter, the bottlenose dolphin notable for her prosthetic tail (whose story was featured in the film Dolphin Tale and the sequel Dolphin Tale 2) was rescued from Mosquito Lagoon in December 2005.

In 2012, a brown tide bloom fouled the lagoon. The county has approval for funds to investigate this unusual bloom to see if future occurrences can be prevented.

Nursery habitat

In marine environments, a nursery habitat is a subset of all habitats where juveniles of a species occur, having a greater level of productivity per unit area than other juvenile habitats (Beck et al. 2001). Mangroves, salt marshes and seagrass are typical nursery habitats for a range of marine species. Some species will use nonvegetated sites, such as Yellow Eyed Mullet, Blue Sprat and Flounder.

Nutrient pollution

Nutrient pollution, a form of water pollution, refers to contamination by excessive inputs of nutrients. It is a primary cause of eutrophication of surface waters, in which excess nutrients, usually nitrogen or phosphorus, stimulate algal growth. Sources of nutrient pollution include surface runoff from farm fields and pastures, discharges from septic tanks and feedlots, and emissions from combustion. Excess nutrients have been summarized as potentially leading to:

Population effects: excess growth of algae (blooms);

Community effects: species composition shifts (dominant taxa);

Ecological effects: food web changes, light limitation;

Biogeochemical effects: excess organic carbon (eutrophication); dissolved oxygen deficits (environmental hypoxia); toxin production;

Human health effects: excess nitrate in drinking water (blue baby syndrome); disinfection by-products in drinking water;

Biodiversity effects: excessive algae blooms (biodiversity loss).In a 2011 United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report, the agency's Science Advisory Board succinctly stated: “Excess reactive nitrogen compounds in the environment are associated with many large-scale environmental concerns, including eutrophication of surface waters, toxic algae blooms, hypoxia, acid rain, nitrogen saturation in forests, and global warming.”


Oyster is the common name for a number of different families of salt-water bivalve molluscs that live in marine or brackish habitats. In some species the valves are highly calcified, and many are somewhat irregular in shape. Many, but not all, oysters are in the superfamily Ostreoidea.

Some types of oysters are commonly consumed cooked or raw, and in some locales are regarded as a delicacy. Some types of pearl oysters are harvested for the pearl produced within the mantle. Windowpane oysters are harvested for their translucent shells, which are used to make various kinds of decorative objects.

Oyster reef restoration

Oyster reef restoration refers to the process of rebuilding or restoring of oyster reefs all over the globe. Over time, oysters have been negatively affected by environmental change, such as harmful fishing techniques, over harvesting, water pollution, and other factors. The results of these factors have been disease and ultimately, a large decline in the global population of oysters and the prevalence and sustainability of oyster reefs. Apart from the ecological importance of oyster reefs, oyster farming is an important industry, particularly in coastal areas. Both artificial materials and natural components have been used to rebuild the reefs in an attempt to regenerate the oyster population thus fostering the reformation of reefs.

Restore America's Estuaries

Restore America's Estuaries (RAE) is a national 501(c)(3) non-profit conservation organization dedicated to preserving the nation's network of estuaries through coastal protection and restoration projects which promote the richness and diversity of coastal life. Based in Arlington, VA with staff in Seattle, Colorado, and Florida, Restore America's Estuaries is an alliance of eleven community-based coastal conservation organizations that includes the American Littoral Society (ALS), Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF), Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL), Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), Galveston Bay Foundation (GBF), North Carolina Coastal Federation (NCCF), Save The Bay – San Francisco (STB-SF), EarthCorps, Save The Bay – Narragansett Bay (STB-NB), Save the Sound (STS)-a program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment, and Tampa Bay Watch (TBW).Restore America's Estuaries works with community, private, and governmental organizations at the national, state, and local level to build partnerships and secure resources to restore and preserve estuarine habitats. Its sphere of work includes supporting on-the-ground community-based restoration projects, creating tools and resources to guide the restoration process, and, engaging and uniting key stakeholders in a biennial national conference and through outreach efforts.Since its creation in 1994, RAE and its members have restored more than 56,000 acres (230 km2) of coastal habitat, yielding countless benefits to vital food supplies, human health, job creation, and quality of life. This work has been accomplished by raising and leveraging more than $25 million in funding for habitat restoration, resulting in the completion of more than 800 local restoration projects throughout the U.S. In addition, over 300,000 volunteers have contributed toward the restoration effort.

The Reef Ball Foundation

The Reef Ball Foundation, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) publicly supported non-profit organization that functions as an international environmental Non-governmental organization. The foundation uses Reef Ball artificial reef technology, combined with coral propagation, transplant technology, public education and community training to build, restore and protect coral reefs. The foundation has established "Reef Ball reefs" in 59 countries, and ongoing projects increase the number to more than 70. Over 550,000 Reef Balls have been deployed in more than 4,000 projects.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.