Oyster Restoration Activity

My teammates and I have committed to several community service opportunities. One of the events involved an oyster project with the South Carolina Oyster Restoration and Enhancement (SCORE) program at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR). This event was split up into two parts: oyster bagging and reef construction. Oyster bagging took place during the fall of 2017, while the reef construction occurred in the spring of 2017. The goals of this program are to initiate oyster restoration efforts, educate citizens of the value oysters have on our ecosystem, and to influence the higher-ups in hopes of better habitat protection as well as better restoration funding. Not only do oyster reefs provide a habitat for marine life and restoration of the oyster population, they may also prohibit nearby shoreline erosion which is one factor in coastal climate impacts. Another benefit of oyster reefs on the shoreline is water filtration and coastal flood prevention. After a short introduction the team was taken to a huge pile of oyster shells and given gloves, buckets, shovels, and net-like bags. As we paired off, one person was to hold the bag steady while their partner filled it ¾ of the way with shells. The bags were tied and loaded onto a truck. Each partner took turns with the shoveling until the entire pile of oyster shells was gone which took about 2 hours. We created over 200 oyster bags that day and were invited back for the second task in the springtime due to high oyster recruitment heights in the warmer months. The second event took place at Wappoo Cut Landing. As a team we lined up across from each other as we unloaded a truck filled with oyster bags. Like an assembly line we tossed each bag down the line to be loaded onto a boat. Once the boat had an adequate amount of bags a group of 7 people loaded onto the boat and were taken about 0.5 miles away from the dock to unload the bags onto the shoreline. There were 5 boat trips in total each taking a different group of people to the shoreline. At the shoreline, each group would line up along the water as each bag was tossed to the end and placed on the muddy shoreline. Several slips, scrapes, and falls took place during the process but with great teamwork we managed to construct an oyster reef. This oyster restoration event served as a great team bonding activity and shows how much we can get done by working together. The same goes for the community as a whole. We can help improve the environment if we all contribute to the many environmental practices such as recycling, decreasing land and water pollution, decreasing land degradation/deforestation, and cutting back on the many resources that we take advantage of. Aside from teamwork, we were reminded that marine life has its own connection of systems that must be restored in order to sustain life. Without reefs the surrounding marine species have lost essential food and shelter which in turn results in less marine species, oysters and fish included. Lack of oysters can result in unfiltered water and less seafood for humans. Likewise, reef less shores make the shore more susceptible to erosion meaning less land for humans.
The track team will be returning to DNR to participate in this event again tomorrow morning. I will post follow-up pictures/videos below.

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