The weather could not have been better last Saturday at Nicol Park in Port St. John for the Brevard Zoo/Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce YPG oyster reef building event. A total of around 30 volunteers were on hand, working two shifts, to place oyster bags in the Indian River Lagoon in a project aimed at helping to clean the water by filtering out debris and nutrients. I honestly did not know what to expect going in to the event, but it turned out to be one of the most fun and rewarding volunteer opportunities I have ever taken part of. When we all arrived, we checked in, grabbed a pair of gloves, and were told of the work plan for the morning. Half of the volunteers worked as the land team while the other half worked as the water team.
Being from Georgia and spending a lot of time in rivers, lakes, and creeks, I was more than happy to serve in this capacity. The water team had a multi-faceted work plan that included zip-tying live oyster bags with the foundation bags which consisted of oyster shells. This was done to prevent the top layer of live oysters from being pulled out into the deeper parts of the lagoon. All total, there were 17 oyster reefs at Nicol Park, however later in the morning and early afternoon the water team worked to establish an additional reef.
The land team worked hard as well, going through bags of oysters that "oyster farmers" had volunteered to take home and grow near their docks. Once the oysters came in, the live oysters were placed in bags with oyster shells. The additional shells served as a foundation for the live oysters to grow and flourish.
One of the neat takeaways from the event was learning that each oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day! As an example, if each of the 17 reefs (not counting the new one we worked on) contained 50 live oysters to start off with, in one day the oysters could filter up to 42,500 gallons of water a day!
The Brevard Zoo did a tremendous job organizing this project and the volunteers all worked hard to make it a success. Our waterways are important for a variety of reasons and by participating in this, the Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce YPG was able to give back to the community that has provided so much to us over the years.
Until next time,
Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce
Convention & Visitors Bureau