Oysters are often thought of as small creatures, but rarely do they receive the recognition for the big impact they play in Galveston Bay and our local ecosystems. Port Houston teamed up with the Galveston Bay Foundation for the third annual Oyster Reef Restoration Project near Galveston’s Sweetwater Preserve July 22.
Despite the summer heat, Port Houston employees and their families rolled up their sleeves and worked together to construct 55 feet of new oyster bar and plant over 750 stems of cordgrass to create new marsh habitat.
Environmental projects like these play an important role in improving water quality and help keep the bay healthy and sustainable for the future. Oyster habitats are vital to the health of Galveston Bay, acting as natural water purifiers that effectively filter nutrients, fine sediments and toxins from the water column. In fact, a single oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day.
Oysters are also a valuable indicator species, meaning that their presence in the water can be used to gather information on the overall health of our bay and its waterways.
“We’re proud to be back participating in our third year of this program,” said Garret Berg, assistant community relations manager at Port Houston. “The volunteer turnout was great and our team was able to construct several large sections of new oyster reef. These new portions of the constructed reef can provide habitat for up to 17,600 new oysters.”
In addition to the volunteer project, the Port of Houston Authority has a five-year lease agreement with the Galveston Bay Foundation for its oyster shell recycling program. The property leased to the Foundation is used to store, clean and cure the shells before they are returned to the bay to create new reefs.
“We truly appreciate the partnership we have created with the Galveston Bay Foundation, and enjoy the opportunity to play a role in this important environmental stewardship project,” added Berg.