Texas Oyster Reef Restoration - Trinity Bay

This project will be completed as a survey of oyster populations on restored reefs at Beezley Reef, Trinity Bay, TX. The specific areas of investigation are four, 2 acre artificial reef rows that will be restored by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in summer 2023, that are adjacent to a larger area of existing artificial reef rows. These new reefs will be built with rip-rap ranging from 60 to 1500 lbs using a different material than the existing reef. The four reefs will be built at different heights to each other.

This investigation will collect data that are necessary for determining both the status of oyster populations, and any obvious differences in oyster settlement and growth occurring on different reef heights. In particular, quantifiable data on oyster characteristics (coverage, density, size-frequency distribution) will be provided. Spatial coverage by other encrusting fauna will also be determined. This work complements monitoring being conducted by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) in April and October each year from 2021 to 2024 on adjacent restored reefs and reference sites.

HRI's Conservation and Restoration Ecology Lab will conduct field sampling in October 2023, which will coincide with the sampling of adjacent reefs by TPWD. Sampling will occur by HRI personnel at two sites on each of the four new reefs (eight sites total). Sampling will be conducted by divers retrieving rocks near the crest of each reef and quantifying spatial coverage of encrusting organisms, including oysters, from these rocks. Measurements of oyster heights and counts over a measured area (density) will also be made. If the rocks are too large to retrieve, then estimates of cover and oyster size will be made in situ either visually or tactilely underwater. If they occur, up to 20 medium-sized oysters (>~45 mm) from each reef will be retained and transported to HRI for laboratory analysis to determine the presence and extent of dermo disease (caused by the protozoan Perkinsus marinus). All other material will be quantified in the field and then returned to the bay bottom.

Measurements of water quality (salinity, temperature, dissolved oxygen) will be taken in each sampling area on the sampling date using a hand-held water quality instrument.