Georgia Southern students help restore oyster reefs in South Carolina

Shiann Sivell

Eleven students assisted the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources in establishing a new oyster reef restoration site on Hutchinson Island at the Ashepoo River in early March.

During the project, the students transferred 350 bags, approximately 10,500 pounds, of recycled oyster shells from land to the shoreline to help form the new oyster reefs.

The oyster reef restoration site was the first by students from GS, but there are already plans to return next year to check on the reef’s progress and to extend the current reef by adding even more bags of recycled shells.

Michael Hodges, a biologist with the SCDNR spoke about the importance of oysters on their environment.

“Oysters improve water quality, control erosion and provide habitat for other commercially-important shellfish and fish species,” said Hodges in the press release. “Unfortunately, oyster populations are declining, so restoration activities such as [the] South Carolina Oyster Restoration and Enhancement Program are needed to maintain the quality of the habitat.”

SCORE is a community-based habitat restoration program relying solely on volunteer groups to assist in establishing oyster reef sites. It is an important endeavor because oysters play a significant ecologic and economic role in the southeastern United States.

One of the leaders of the project, director of the Institute for Coastal Plain Science at the University Daniel Gleason, Ph.D, said in a press release that establishing a relationship with the South Carolina DNR provides several outstanding opportunities for students.

“Not only does it allow them to make a difference by participating in an important restoration activity, but it also puts them in direct contact with individuals who can provide them with access to internships as well as long-term career opportunities in natural resource management,” Gleason said in the press release

To help with projects like oyster restoration visit the SCORE website for upcoming events and career opportunities.

Shiann Sivell, The George-Anne Daily Reporter, [email protected]