Closing the Loop: Recycling Shells and Rebuilding Oyster Reefs for Resilience and Recovery
Oysters are economically and ecologically important coastal natural resources in Texas. Oyster reefs increase resilience of coastal environments and economies by buffering storm surges, improving water quality, supplying critical habitat, providing fresh seafood, and supporting tourism and recreation. However, over the past two decades, Texas oyster populations have experienced critical declines. Restoration has emerged as an important tool for enhancing coastal natural resources, including oysters and the complex habitat they create when free-swimming oyster larvae attach to and grow upon the shells of older generations. In areas where the reef has been degraded, restoration involves replacing lost structure with shells or other hard substrates.