Sink Your Shucks Community Restoration Events Celebrate Great Turnout and 15 Years

Bucket of oyster shell at Sink Your Shucks restoration event

The Sink Your Shucks™ oyster shell recycling program, part of the Coastal Conservation and Restoration lab at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, welcomed over 250 volunteers at their 2024 community restoration events at Goose Island State Park on May 4 and May 11. These were the first public events held by the program since 2019, following a hiatus due to COVID and restructuring of the program.

Volunteers worked at various stations to shovel and bag the shell, then place bags in a reef formation off the shoreline. The recycled shell is provided by nine partner restaurants throughout the Coastal Bend. These restaurants are committed to gathering shell from patrons which are then collected by Sink Your Shucks employees and held at property provided by the Port of Corpus Christi to quarantine and cure the shell over a period of 6 months. The shell is placed into biodegradable cellulose fiber bags which are then passed down to the reef location by lines of volunteers. This year, over 20 tons of shell were placed into 3000 bags to form a reef off the state park shoreline.

These new reefs provide valuable substrate for juvenile oysters, habitat for various bottom-dwelling organisms and fish, improve water quality, and protect shorelines from erosion. Celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2024, the program has collected over 3 million pounds of shell and constructed over 45 acres of reef in the Mission-Aransas estuary bays.