Oyster reefs bounce back after Harvey, students learn - KRISTV.com | Continuous News Coverage | Corpus Christi

Oyster reefs bounce back after Harvey, students learn

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Hurricane Harvey caused a lot of devastation in nearby towns. But those studying at Texas A&M Corpus Christi have been provided with a great learning opportunity.

Two weeks prior to Hurricane Harvey, the University's newest habitat restoration project called the St. Charles Bay Oyster Reef was finished.

What happened next, was unexpected. A category four hurricane came through, and researchers didn't know what they would find at the site of the new project.

Dr. Jennifer Pollack, an associate professor of marine biology at the University, was one of those who went back out to the project site.

"We got out to the reef for our first monitoring a couple of weeks after Hurricane Harvey," Pollack said. "The reef was still there and we've seen a new set of larval baby oysters already attached onto this oyster reef."

The reef was installed along the Big Tree unit in Goose Island State Park. It runs along the shoreline and is 2,000 ft. long. It was built as a shoreline protection to help prevent erosion in an area that is known for it. The reef was also meant to be a new habitat for sea life.

But now, the restored oyster reef is being used as a lesson under water.

"It really gave us the opportunity to understand the affect of these large-scale disturbances on habitat restoration," Pollack said. "Those are things that are really difficult to plan for because you really need a large scale disturbance to occur."

University researchers like Pollack believe the information learned from studying the oyster reefs will benefit restoration projects around the world.

"We're going to follow the progression of these oysters over the next year to year-and-a-half," Pollack said, "to try to understand, 'how does the reef recover, and how do the organisms come and re-establish themselves after the hurricane?'"

Re-used oysters come from local seafood restaurants and sellers. They are collected at the Corpus Christi port and are dispersed to the University and oyster reef locations.

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