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Sink Your Shucks recycling honored

Volunteers bag oyster shells collected from Coastal Bend restaurants to dump back into area bays to restore reefs and ultimately grow more tasty bivalve mollusks. Courtesy photo

A program to rebuild area oyster beds by recycling oyster shells from restaurants has been recognized for its success. Sink Your Shucks will be granted a community conservation award by the Coastal Bend Bays Foundation during its annual Conservation and Environmental Stewardship Awards on Dec. 7. The program will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the American Bank Center.

The program, which is operated by the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies and the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi College of Science and Engineering, was particularly challenged by Hurricane Harvey. The Category 4 hurricane passed directly over a newly constructed oyster reef and shoreline restoration project near Rockport.

Installed in July, the 2,000-linear-foot reef is a living shoreline along the Big Tree unit in Goose Island State Park. Not only was the reef spared damage, a new layer of spat — oyster larvae —can be seen on the reef.

Started in 2009, Sink Your Shucks has so far restored about 14 acres of oyster reef in Copano and Aransas bays. Last year, volunteers repurposed the program’s millionth pound of oyster shells as productive estuary habitat.

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