ShellBond Artificial Reef for Oyster Habitat Restoration

The Issue:   Recent attention to the Gulf oil spill and the damage it has brought to marine and estuarine waters has raised grave concern about the effect on oyster and fish habitats. In order to offer a new scientific approach to restoring and enhancing the reestablishment of oyster sedimentation, ShellBond has a solution. Utilizing the ShellBond crystal as a super sponge with oils, the ShellBond Oyster Habitat (SOH) is built upon a mixture of ShellBond, sand filler and fish oil.  This “artificial reef” material exhibits a great attraction for bio life, oysters and fish and assisting in restoration of habitat affected by pollution. 

Oyster cycle: The commercial oyster or eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, can be found in bays and estuaries along the East coast and Gulf waters. Oysters spawn from the warm weather in late spring until early fall. Eggs are fertilized in the water creating an uncertain event at best while a small fraction of the eggs become fertile. However, spawning of many oysters at the same time assure an abundance of embryonic oysters. The fertilized egg quickly develops into a swimming, shell-bearing larval oyster or "veliger." During the veliger stage, lasting two or three weeks, larval losses are very high. While in this stage, larvae are distributed throughout a bay by tidal currents. Many organisms feed upon the larvae or produce substances which poison them. Pollution from industrial waste or high levels of hydrocarbons and toxic surfactants may cause larval death. As a result, the percentage of larvae that develop to the next, "setting", stage is probably small. Larvae that have settled to the bottom and cemented themselves to a suitable surface are called "spat," presumably because their golden-brown shells, just visible to the naked eye, look like specks of tobacco juice. Spat will “set upon” many different materials, such as bricks, bottles, cans, tires, even crabs and turtles. However, oyster shells (both in use and empty) provide the most abundant, naturally available setting material.  This unpredictable method of generating oysters has room for improvement. 

Solution: The use of ShellBond, made from oyster shells, molded into a surface for the spat to set upon is a way to increase the density and the quality of the resulting mature oysters, by offering a conducive surface and environment that attracts bio life which can be raised off the bottom of the ocean and the sediment that is infiltrated with pollutants and chemicals. Oyster spat tend to settle where some spat are already present. When spat are plentiful, overcrowding may occur but this tendency helps to maintain the oyster population on established reefs and is a means by which new reefs may evolve. ShellBond is conducting research on surface configurations and structures with the goal of:

* Increasing oyster spat sedimentation ratios 

* Increase oyster quality 

* Increasing density 

* Offering a solution for reestablishing oyster habitat in Gulf waters affected by the BP oil spill 

* Offering a new habitat environment for oyster farms and natural settings above the polluted ocean floor, while creating a healthy reef environment to flourish