We are a group of volunteers interested in helping to improve the water and habitat quality of Mobile Bay, Mississippi Sound and the Little Lagoon by directing our efforts toward raising baby oysters (spat) and planting them on area reefs. The project is a partnership between the volunteers, Auburn University’s School of Fisheries, The Alabama Cooperative Extension System and the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium.
How It Works
Oyster gardeners along the Alabama gulf coast grow oysters in gardens that hang from their piers. Gardeners are responsible for cleaning their oysters weekly from June to November. This includes pulling them out of the water, rinsing off mud, and removing predators. Common predators are blue crabs, stone crabs, and oyster drills. The gardens are returned to the water after cleaning. At the end of the gardening season, the oysters are collected and planted on restoration reefs in Mobile Bay and the Mississippi Sound.
Why Its Important
Oyster Gardening is a great way for gardeners to interact with the environment and participate in restoration. Oysters from this project are planted on restoration reefs in Mobile Bay and the Mississippi Sound. As the reefs continue to grow through settling of spat (young oysters), they develop a matrix of interstitial spaces that provide habitat for over 300 different species. In addition to providing habitat, oysters improve water quality by feeding on phytoplankton, and filtering out excess nutrients. Oyster reefs also help to dissipate wave energy along the coast which helps to stabilize the shoreline. Oyster gardening provides an opportunity for gardeners to participate in ecological restoration by helping improve water quality, create habitat, and stabilize shorelines.