"We are working on three places to rebuild the oyster reefs, and they are located in Tarpon Bay, San Carlos Bay and the third at the southern part of Matlachay Pass," said SCCF Marine Laboratory Director Eric Milbrandt.
"In this area, 90 to 95 percent of the oyster population was destroyed by either poor water quality or by road construction," Milbrandt
"They can filter up to 20 to 25 gallons of water per day and they also help stabilize the bottom of the bays."
received a large delivery of fossilized shells, which is piled up near the Sanibel Dock park.
For the last several months, SCCF volunteers and staff have been loading up the shells in five-gallon buckets and transferring them to a barge located near one of the three sites.
"Each bucket contains about 30 to 35 pounds of shells and barge loads hold about 100 to 130 buckets," Milbrandt
"So far in one week, we move 20 cubic yards of shells.
We average 10 barge loads per week and anywhere from three to four trips per day when we get enough volunteers."
The goal at each of the three sites is to cover six inches to a foot of the fill and work will be done up to the end of the year, even into 2016 if need be.
had to go through a long and strenuous permit process to gain access to the sites, which included working on reefs with a low amount of sawtooth fish, which are endangered in the area.
Each area also have relic reefs, or reefs which are currently dead.
successfully rebuilt oyster reefs in the Clam Bayou area on Sanibel in 2009-10 and after the second year after the work was done, there were self-populating oyster populations.
"We don't really know the size and the extent of the oyster reefs in the area, because they have never been mapped out," Milbrandt
"Our current projects only cover two acres, compared to the thousands of acres which is in the Pine Island Sound."
A healthy oyster reef will have around 1,000 to 1,500 oyster per square meter, but in a nearly dead reef, only 50 oysters are found per square meter.
"The peek settlement period is September through November," Milbrandt
"The more volunteers we have, the more we are able to get done," Milbrandt