Local News

Aug 30, 2013 5:21 PM by Morgan Frances - MFrances@kristv.com

Large Barge Hauls Oyster Shells To Restoration Reef

ROCKPORT - Marine life is important to the cities lining the Gulf and today the Department of Life Sciences and HARTE Institute over at Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi helped the oyster population and, at the same time, saved some room at the landfill.

Today students, professors and a captain motored out to take a look at a project that's been well in the works for some time. Dr. Jennifer Pollack, Assistant Professor of Marine Biology at Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, is heading up venture to restore eight acres of oystery in Copano Bay and Aransas Bay.

"After oysters get harvested and those oysters are removed," said Dr. Jennifer Pollack, "you need new substraight to form those building blocks, to form that foundation for the larva oysters to attach to, and that's what we're providing for them."

By collecting oyster shells from local restaurants for several months, the team hopes to build their third and fourth oyster reefs to increase the oyster population.

"Before the oysters attach, they're just tiny little plankton; they don't really look like an oyster that we would recognize at all," Pollack.

But like a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly, the oyster also goes through stages of growth.

"The last stage," Pollack said, "when they cement themselves on to a hard substrate is when they turn into what the oyster is that we recognize today."

By using different combinations of crushed concrete, limestone, river rock and oysters, it's Pollack's hope that they can find out what the oysters like most.

For 16-year-old Lindsey Laskowski, a hopeful Texas A&M University of Corpus Christi student, the opportunity to drive from San Antonio to Corpus Christi to see how this stuff works was a valuable learning experience.

"It helps our environment in ways that you don't get to see every day but you hear about it and sometimes you just want to see things more than just hearing about them," Laskowski said.

Aside from that, the slippery little suckers are important for us. They filter pollutants and toxins out of the water, make the ocean clearer, provide habitat for lots of fishes and protect our shoreline.

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