Missouri Limestone Finds a New Home on Texas Oyster Reef
The largest oyster reef restoration ever is underway off the Texas coast, with material supplied by an unusual suspect: a Missouri quarry hundreds of miles from the nearest saltwater. Mark Dumesnil, an associate director for the Nature Conservancy in Texas, is spearheading the project that hopes to resurrect a 500-acre oyster bed known as Half Moon Reef.
Seven years ago, Dumesnil began planning the project, which culminated earlier this month with a procession down the Mississippi River of 36 barges carrying 93,000 tons of Missouri limestone. Scientists, engineers, researchers, and hired labor will soon begin the process of dropping the boulders onto a 54-acre site located eight feet underwater, hoping to bring the damaged ecosystem back to life.
Globally, reefs have been on the decline. The Nature Conservancy estimates that nearly 50 percent of Gulf of Mexico reefs have been destroyed by storms and overfishing. Why oysters? It turns out that the hard-shelled critters are great filters, with each able to process 50 gallons of water daily. As the oyster population declines, so does the health of the ocean in general. Not to mention that oyster harvesting is a $30 million a year industry in Texas. (Derek Dowell – VNN) (Image: Flickr | Sam Howzit)