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Gulfport hopes vertical oyster gardens will help fight red tide and filter polluted waters

Free vertical oyster garden workshop this Saturday
Posted: 4:05 AM, Jun 27, 2019
Updated: 2019-06-28 07:26:05-04
oyster reef to fight red tide

TIERRA VERDE, Fla. — Eric Plage is an environmental specialist at nonprofit Tampa Bay Watch. He's a big fan of oysters.

“They’re incredibly hardy as a bivalve,” says Plage. “They filter out things like storm drain runoff, pollution, pesticides, fertilizers, the algae that causes red tide.”

Because of those filtering powers, Plage is also a big fan of vertical oyster gardens.

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

So is Gulfport. The City is teaming up with Tampa Bay Watch to hang vertical oyster gardens off docks in the municipal marina.

The gardens are oyster shells strung up with thick rope. When they’re submerged in water, the gardens attract live oysters which attach to the shells. Live full-grown oysters that are fully submerged can filter up to 10 gallons of water an hour.

At a free workshop Saturday at Tampa Bay Watch’s community room in Tierra Verde, the public is invited to learn about and make their own vertical oyster gardens.

They can also adopt vertical oyster gardens in Gulfport and report findings back to Tampa Bay Watch. Or they can hang gardens off their own private docks and residences.

For more information on Saturday’s event, visit: tampabaywatch.org/volunteer.html.

TB Watch oyster Gulfport