Reefs made from recycled oyster shells expected to boost marine life along Nature Coast

HERNANDO BEACH, Fla. — Hernando County volunteers are working hard to restore the Nature Coast and they're using dead sea creatures to do it.

On Monday, Spring Hill Boy Scout Troop 446 of St. Frances Cabrini Catholic Church worked on bagging hundreds of recycled oyster shells.

"A lot of restaurants throughout the state of Florida will donate their shells," said Brittany Hallscharf  SeaGrant Agent for Hernando County. 

The shells sit outside for three months or longer to make sure they're clear of bacteria or diseases before putting them back into the water. 

"Its heavy but we can do it if we just work together," said Boy Scout James Dimarco-Mattos.

The labor-intensive job of moving mountains of oyster shells and sorting them into 30-pound bags has taken lots of volunteers. 

"We’re bagging these so we can take them out into the Gulf and these shells will attract baby oysters so that we can grow more oysters and the oysters will filter the water and clean it to make our ecosystem a lot cleaner," said Boy Scout Jacob Corbin.

Next month more than 2500 bags will be taken to Centipede Bay just North of Hernando Beach where they will be stacked to form a reef where more oysters will attach and grow. 

"From there it will grow into a larger three-dimensional reef which will provide habitat for fish, prevent erosion, and dissipate wave energy," said Hallscharf. 

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