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2014 Was Best Year Yet For Brevard Zoo Oyster Restoration Programs

This past year, local conservation leader Brevard Zoo and partners Brevard County and the University of Central Florida celebrated the biggest accomplishments yet for their Oyster Gardening and Oyster Mats programs (referred to collectively as “Brevard Oyster Restoration”) thanks to help from community volunteers.

The Oyster Gardening program concluded its first year of operation having successfully recruited more than 800 waterfront residents who dedicated about 135,000 hours to growing oysters inside specially designed habitats suspended from their docks. These volunteers also collected data that determined the most successful areas of the county for oysters.

In November, that data was used to select three sites for Brevard County's very first oyster reef-restoration construction projects. By the end of the year, 15 reef sections were completed at those sites, populated by the more than 60,000 live oysters grown through the Oyster Gardening program. Those oysters will soon filter a combined 3 million gallons of water per day while providing wildlife habitat and natural erosion prevention, too.

It's been a big year for the Oyster Mats program, as well. More than 6,000 volunteers contributed well over 10,000 hours to constructing about 4,300 oyster mats, bringing the total number of volunteers who have participated in the program to date up to an impressive 41,128.

Five oyster reefs were restored this past year using oyster mats produced through the program, and an additional 3 reefs were repaired following boat collisions, making for a total of 68 reefs and 2.01 acres restored to date. According to Dr. Linda Walters, Pegasus Professor of Biology at UCF, those restored reefs could provide substrate for up to 6.94 million oysters.

Both oyster programs will also benefit from a new oyster shell recycling partnership between

Brevard Zoo, Brevard County, Waste Management, local seafood processing plant Southeastern SeaProducts, and Anderson Rentals, Inc. The Oyster Mats and Oyster Gardening programs have also both secured funding to expand into 2015 and beyond, so look for more great things to come in the New Year.




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