GSU’s Rose helps to re­store oys­ter reefs in South Car­olina

The Standard Journal - - LIFESTYLE - From press re­lease

STATESBORO — Eleven stu­dents from Ge­or­gia South­ern Univer­sity, in­clud­ing Kaylee Rose of Rock­mart, as­sisted the South Car­olina Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources on last month in es­tab­lish­ing a new oys­ter reef restora­tion site on Hutchin­son Is­land at the Ashe­poo River.

Led by Daniel Glea­son, Ph.D., di­rec­tor of the In­sti­tute for Coastal Plain Sci­ence at the Univer­sity, and John Car­roll, Ph.D., as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of bi­ol­ogy, the stu­dent group on March 2 teamed up with Univer­sity bi­ol­ogy grad­u­ate Michael Hodges (‘01), a bi­ol­o­gist with the South Car­olina Depart­ment of Nat­u­ral Re­sources.

“Es­tab­lish­ing this re­la­tion­ship with Michael Hodges and South Car­olina DNR pro­vides sev­eral out­stand­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for our stu­dents,” said Glea­son. “Not only does it al­low them to make a dif­fer­ence by par­tic­i­pat­ing in an im­por­tant restora­tion ac­tiv­ity, but it also puts them in direct con­tact with in­di­vid­u­als who can pro­vide them with ac­cess to in­tern­ships as well as long-term ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties in nat­u­ral re­source man­age­ment.”

With the help of SCDNR staff, the stu­dents trans­ferred 350 bags, ap­prox­i­mately 10,500 pounds, of re­cy­cled oys­ter shells from land to the shore­line to help form new oys­ter reefs.

The pur­pose of the pro­gram, known as the South Car­olina Oys­ter Restora­tion and En­hance­ment Pro­gram (SCORE), is to plant re­cy­cled oys­ter shells along the shore- line to form new, self-sus­tain­ing oys­ter reefs. Over time, lar­val oys­ters at­tach to the shells and grow and mul­ti­ply un­til they form a vi­brant ecosys­tem.

SCORE is a com­mu­ni­ty­based habi­tat restora­tion pro­gram re­ly­ing solely on vol­un­teer groups to as­sist in es­tab­lish­ing oys­ter reef sites. It is an im­por­tant en­deavor be­cause oys­ters play a sig­nif­i­cant eco­logic and eco­nomic role in the south­east­ern United States.

“Oys­ters im­prove wa­ter qual­ity, con­trol ero­sion and pro­vide habi­tat for other com­mer­cially-im­por­tant shell­fish and fish species,” said Hodges. “Un­for­tu­nately, oys­ter pop­u­la­tions are de­clin­ing, so restora­tion ac­tiv­i­ties such as SCORE are needed to main­tain the qual­ity of the habi­tat.”

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