Oysters: Delicious and Invaluable
Every single person in this country has a vested interest in the viability of our coastal communities. These coastal communities are home to a growing number of Americans, support our food and energy needs, and contribute millions to our annual economy. The coast also serves as cultural touchstones for so many of us—who can forget their first time seeing the ocean or wriggling their toes in the sand?
This is one of the many reasons The Nature Conservancy in Texas has worked hard to restore Half Moon Reef, a historic oyster reef located in Matagorda Bay. Oysters are one of the Gulf’s most important inhabitants—those little bivalves are not only delicious, they also act as a natural water filtration system. The Gulf of Mexico is the final outlet for 207 estuaries and more than 30 major river systems in this country, including the mighty Mississippi River; oysters strip nutrients and impurities from those millions of gallons of freshwater flowing daily into the Gulf. With Half Moon Reef, we plan to not only construct a viable habitat for oysters (and various other marine life), but to help restore the Texas Gulf Coast to ensure protection against hurricanes and tropical storms well into the future.
The Conservancy has previously constructed new oyster beds and restored existing reefs along the upper and lower Texas coast, but the 45-acre Half Moon Reef will be the Conservancy’s first reef constructed from the ground up. It’s also one of the largest restoration projects around the country, said Boze Hancock, research scientist for the Conservancy’s Global Marine Team.”We are not [just] restoring oysters, we are restoring habitat,” he added.
Intrigued by Half Moon Reef? Want to learn more? Hear about all the incredible details in this video!
photo: Oyster Lake © Jerod Foster