Last year I wrote a blog post about Tri Beta teaming with the Brevard Zoo to make oyster mats for their restoration project. This year, Tri Beta partnered with the Brevard Zoo again to create more oyster mats to continue the progress of the Oyster Mat Restoration Project throughout the Indian River Lagoon (IRL). As of recent updates, Brevard Zoo and volunteers have replaced over 28,000 oyster mats and have restored about 50 reefs in the IRL!
Since oyster restoration is an important project, Tri Beta continues to dedicate one meeting per academic year to making more of these mats. At a given meeting we can generate anywhere from 20-30 mats depending on meeting attendance. This event is usually a great hit, with people of all different majors banding together to build these mats for larval oysters to settle on in the Indian River Lagoon.
Requiring only 36 oyster shells, a piece of aquaculture-grade mesh and some zip ties, oyster mats are a fairly easy project. So, what if you’re not in Tri Beta? The good news is, you can still be involved! I know the Department of Marine and Environmental Systems, as well as other organizations on campus, host events for oyster mat restoration. You could join those events, or you could go to the zoo yourself and make these mats! Oh no, you don’t have a car but your club really wants to be involved in this amazing project? Don’t worry, all you have to do is get a group of people together, call the zoo, and schedule the event. They will bring all the materials to you and you get to help restore the beautiful oyster reefs in the Indian River Lagoon.
I know some people are thinking that these oyster mats aren’t really important– after all, they’re just oysters. True, oysters may not be the most interesting creatures on the planet, but they help keep the water in the lagoon clean by filtering out impurities. Oysters are also a source of income for many people in Brevard since oysters are a popular menu item. With the numbers of oysters and oyster reefs declining, replacing these reefs results in increasing larval settlement, and therefore, more oysters. More oysters means cleaner water and a more stable fishery.