Bayshore project to aid oysters
November 26, 2010
With its wide sidewalk, picturesque balustrade and seawall, Tampa's Bayshore Boulevard is a haven for strollers, runners, skaters, bikers and the like.
But it isn't so great for native marine life.
Tampa Bay Watch, along with the Bayshore Beautiful Homeowners Association and the Coastal Conservation Association Florida, are working to change that.
Staff and volunteers will install 500 concrete oyster domes in the shallow waters just off Bayshore on Dec. 7-8. The project will be between Chapin and West Lawn avenues.
"We were trying to add vital habitat along this urban area that historically was there," said Chris Sutton, project manager for Tampa Bay Watch.
Sutton said the area was once a natural shoreline with mangroves, salt marshes and plenty of oyster communities. That was all destroyed when the area was dredged and the seawall was built.
"It is just a void area down there," Sutton said of the Bay area along the seawall.
So Tampa Bay Watch started installing the domes.
They are made of marine-friendly concrete, stand 18 inches tall, are 24 inches in diameter and weigh about 100 pounds. They look like a cross between a kindergarten pottery project and Swiss cheese.
The domes originally were designed to rebuild coral reefs, but scientists found they were great homes for oysters, which can cling to the rough surface as they mature.
Oysters are a natural filter, cleaning up to 10 gallons per hour. The oysters then become food for fish and wading shorebirds.
The domes also provide homes and hiding spots for smaller species of fish and crabs and reduce shore erosion.
Sutton said next month's installation is the continuation of earlier efforts along Bayshore. Tampa Bay Watch has already installed 2,000 domes south of Chapin.
Sutton said a crane will lift the domes from a truck and place them in the water with help of staff and volunteers. He said Tampa Bay Watch has already lined up all the manpower it needs.
Sutton said the dome project has the additional benefit of getting the community involved and drawing attention to conservation.
"We all live here for different reasons, but our waters are usually the driving force," he said.
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