Contact: Greg Harrison
Since 2008, CCA Orlando life member Greg Harrison CCA Florida has been partnering with the University of Central Florida (UCF) and the Brevard Zoo on several oyster restoration and shoreline stabilization projects in the Mosquito Lagoon. Greg was instrumental in getting many volunteers to assist over the years with what is quickly becoming Florida’s and the nation’s most publicized habitat project. To date, the number of volunteers on this project total 44,563 for oyster restoration and 7,270 for living shorelines. That’s an amazing total of 51,833 volunteers to date!
Led by Dr. Linda Walters, a UCF biological sciences professor, over 43,000 deployed oyster mats have restored on 77 oyster reefs, covering a footprint area of 2.20 acres in Mosquito Lagoon. The mats on the restored reefs are maintaining their structure and are not being dislodged by boat wakes. Analysis of the monitoring data over the past eight years shows that, to date, this methodology that couples dead margin leveling with placement of oyster mats on the leveled shell material is exceeding all structural and functional monitoring plan objectives. On restored reefs: 1) no dead margins have reformed, 2) recruitment of oysters on 2007 mats continues to increase and is now an average of 235.9 live oysters per mat (0.25 m2) or 943.6 live oysters per square meter, 3) recruitment continued to occur during 2 years with brown tide (Aureoumbra lagunensis) blooms, and 4) seagrass recruited seaward of 21 of 73 (28.8%) reefs restored between 2007 and 2015. If you multiply the mean recruitment value for 2007 reefs by the number of mats deployed, this project has supplied substrate at the appropriate lagoon depths to potentially restore over 10,204,798 oysters to the waters of Mosquito Lagoon. Overall, this project has been exceptionally successful in terms of oyster recruitment, habitat improvement, and community engagement. This is an ongoing project in which additional funding and volunteers are needed for future oyster restoration and shoreline stabilization projects!