Half-ton oyster reef balls set out along Wanchese shoreline

By on July 25, 2018

Total Marine Services did the heavy lifting. (N.C. Coastal Federation)

The North Carolina Coastal Federation worked with a local contractor last week to deploy 25 oyster reef balls along the shoreline near their office in the Wanchese Marine Industrial Park.

Total Marine Services deployed the oyster reef balls along 100 feet of shoreline.

Oyster reef balls come in various sizes, but the federation used the pallet ball size. Each weighs 1,300 pounds and is 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide. The balls are made from concrete and designed with lots of surface area for baby oysters to attach to and grow on.

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“These reef balls help to demonstrate the variety of ways that oysters can be restored to our waters,” said Erin Fleckenstein, coastal scientist and regional manager for the federation’s Wanchese office.

“The reef balls and nearby oyster shell bags will provide a surface for baby oysters to naturally attach to and develop into an oyster reef along the shoreline.”

The project is one several at the federation’s office. The staff has worked to demonstrate techniques for building oyster reefs, protecting natural shorelines and limiting stormwater runoff.

The reef balls are adjacent to a 100-foot sill that was built by volunteers out of recycled oyster shells, showing two different ways oysters can be used to create habitat and protect the natural shoreline.

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Interested people are invited to contact the federation to learn more about these techniques and visit the office to see them as they work.

“We look forward to educating everyone about these techniques. Already we’ve been using the oyster bags along the shoreline in our summer programming,” said Sara Hallas, coastal education coordinator.

Over the next two years, the oyster reef balls will recruit oysters, helping to improve water quality in Broad Creek. The oyster reef balls will help create more habitat around the shoreline and provide foraging and refuge areas for important fish species.

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The project is near the demonstration living shoreline and can be viewed from the recently completed dock at the office. It is supported by Camp Younts Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Community-based Restoration Program.

Oyster restoration is one of the federation’s major initiatives. By 2020, the organization plans to restore 50 acres of oyster reef through its 50 Million Oyster Initiative.

More information about the 50 Million Oyster Initiative is available at nccoast.org/50million, where people can learn how to support the initiative through Adopt an Oyster.

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