The living shoreline project: working to protect & improve our coast

The living shoreline project: working to protect & improve our coast
The North Carolina Coastal Federation needs volunteers to help protect our shoreline. (Source: WECT)

SUNSET BEACH, NC (WECT) - You can help project our shoreline by volunteering to help build an oyster reef.

The North Carolina Coastal Federation needs volunteers to help build a 60-foot oyster reef along the shoreline at the Sunset Beach Town Park. The volunteers will place bags along the shoreline at low tide to build the reefs which will form a living shoreline to help protect the park from erosion and create a valuable habitat.

Adults and children over 12-years-old are welcome to attend. Snacks and lunch will be provided.

The event is Thursday, January 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. To register for the event, click here.

The North Carolina Coastal Federation needs volunteers to help build a 60-foot oyster reef along the shoreline at the Sunset Beach Town Park.
The North Carolina Coastal Federation needs volunteers to help build a 60-foot oyster reef along the shoreline at the Sunset Beach Town Park. (WECT)

The living shorelines projects help support the federation’s living shoreline and oyster initiatives. Oyster reefs are often components of living shorelines; they not only help control erosion, but they also help with new oyster growth. The 50 Million Oyster Initiative hopes to create 50 new acres of oyster sanctuary throughout North Carolina with each acre supporting one million oysters by 2020. Oysters improve water quality and fish habitats which benefits fishermen, tourism, and the overall coastal economy for years to come.

“In the next three years, the federation plans to build 4,525 linear feet of living shoreline,” said Ted Wilgis, coastal education coordinator at the federation’s Wrightsville Beach office. “Living shorelines maintain the vital connection between the land and shallow water of estuaries which are so productive and economically important.”

Wiligis says the mesh bag, pictured above, is not biodegradable. “They don’t biodegrade, because we need them to hold the shells in place in rough conditions until the baby oysters settle and grow on the shells, and the new oyster reef forms" he told WECT. “The oysters will grow through the bag, essentially sealing the bag in the reef. Many organisms, crabs, shrimp, small fish and others live in the bag and come and go as they please. Having said that, we don’t like to use the plastic mesh unless we have to, and we and lots of other organizations and researchers who do similar projects are testing our new materials that could take the place of the plastic mesh.”

A oyster reef formed inside the mesh bag. (source: NC Coastal Federation)
A oyster reef formed inside the mesh bag. (source: NC Coastal Federation)

For more information on living shorelines, visit the Living Shorelines Academy website.

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