Calusa Waterkeepers Create Oyster Gardens to Aid Water Quality

Oct 9, 2023 | Featured, Press

Originally published by FOX4 News on October 9, 2023

You may be keeping our waterways cleaner the next time you order oysters at dinner.

The Calusa Waterkeepers, a non-profit organization, has been creating vertical oyster gardens made from recycled shells from local restaurants. They’re also known as VOGs.

“The shells sit here for four to five months and they naturally disinfect,” explained Waterkeeper Codty Pierce as he pointed at shells on the ground at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Over the weekend, the organization hosted its second workshop in an area set up next to the Food Forest Pavilion. After the shells are disinfected, they are moved to the second station.

“It’s pretty sophisticated. We put the shells in the bucket and take them over here where the volunteers are drilling the shells.”

Volunteers drill a single hole in each shell before they’re taken to the third and final station. This is where about thirty shells are strung onto a rope.

“Once they’re assembled, they’ll sit just below the water column,” said Pierce as he held up one of the vertical oyster garden strings. “Any type of shellfish that attaches to this vertical access is a benefit to us whether that is barnacles or mussels or even better soliciting more oyster growth.”

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