Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Happy World Ocean's Day!

Happy World Oceans Day!
Oceanic Blog-A-Thon
This year's theme is Oceans of Life and we were ask to Pick Your Favorite and Protect Your Favorite.

"This year’s theme focuses on our ocean’s great diversity of life and how we can all help in its conservation. Since everyone has a favorite ocean animal, we are interested in connecting their favorite species with what they can do to help conserve our world's ocean. Pick your favorite and protect it - try to pick just one favorite; it’s hard! We can help motivate people to take conservation action: Together, we can make a difference!" 
Pick Your Favorite

Normally I would have chosen between sea turtles or dolphins, so I think you'll be surprised to learn that I chose oysters.

Not exactly the kind of animal that encourages Oyster Watching Tours or the kind that you blog about when you see them on a trip to the beach, am I right? But I hope that today you will learn just how important a role these little critters play in protecting our oceans.
Oysters have been around for millions of years. Oyster is the common name for a number of distinct groups of bivalve mollusks which live in marine or brackish habitats. They've been used as food, tools, building material, decoration and are the livelihood of many generations of oyster fishers along the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts of the United States and around the world.

The Horton House on Jekyll Island
The walls of the Horton House, built of Tabby (made of equal parts lime, sand, water and oyster shells) has stood since the mid-1700s.

Oyster Fishers 1909 — Apalachicola, Florida

Fried, stewed or served nude, oysters are a favorite treat for many.
"He was a bold man that first ate an oyster." –Johnathan Swift

Oysters on the Half Shell (Nude)

Oyster Po'boy from Buffalo Jack's in Destin, Florida

Long before they were served with horseradish and crackers, oysters fulfilled much needed ecological services—filtering impurities from the flowing water of coastal rivers and providing food, shelter, spawning grounds and nursery areas for marine and estuarine fish and other invertebrates.

But decades of over-consumption, pollution and declining habitat has decimated the once massive oyster reefs that dominated estuaries of every coastal state in the contiguous United States. Globally, scientists estimate an 85 percent loss of native oyster reef habitat.

Protect Your Favorite

You've already learned that oyster reefs are in sharp decline and with the current oil spill on the Gulf Coast, oysters are headed for even more devastation. So how we can help protect oysters and our oceans at the same time?

You'll be pleased to learn we already know how to do this. Of course, it won't happen overnight and it appears we'll have a lot of oil to clean up first, but there is hope!

Back on May 11th, I shared photos with you of my daytrip to Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island, here in Coastal Georgia. I showed you photos of the island and of the beach.

Jekyll Island Beach

Flowing into the Atlantic Ocean here is Clam Creek

It was here that I learned about

The sign you see as you enter Driftwood Beach informs visitors: 

Oyster Habitat Restoration Project in Progress

Please Do Not Disturb the Bagged Shell

The sign goes on to explain that mesh bags of prepared oyster shell were installed on Jekyll Island in April 2007. They will attract larval oysters, and in years to come, living oyster reef will replace the mesh bags of empty shell.

The Jekyll Island Oyster Reef Restoration – Clam Creek has been designated as a Five Star Restoration Site as part of Restoring America's River Corridors & Wetlands by the EPA, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Wildlife Council and other agencies.

Oyster Reef on Jekyll Island

The scope of this project was twofold. Firstly, to support the continuation of GEORGIA, a community‐based shell recycling and reef restoration program, and secondly to expand the program coastwide, and to encourage and assist members of the public with waterfront property to restore oysters in their own backyards.

These goals were accomplished through program advertising, the distribution of promotional items, participation in shell pick‐ups from seafood restaurants and private oyster roast events, enhanced volunteer communications, public presentations, an enhanced shell bagging schedule, homeowner site evaluations, the completion of permitting requirements and the restoration and subsequent monitoring of oyster reef habitat.

If you have questions, require more information, would like to donate shell, or are interested in volunteer opportunities, please visit their website. You can also contact them in the Savannah at (912) 598-2348 or in Brunswick at (912) 264-7323.

The point of today's post is to remind you that oyster reefs provide important functions which include water quality filtration, shoreline erosion control and essential fish habitat.

Did you know that oysters are filter feeders and inadvertently clean pollutants from the water? One adult oyster can filter 2.5 gallons of water per hour! Now you have a better understanding of why I chose the lowly oyster as my favorite ocean animal today. As you know, I LOVE the beach and these little critters have the capability to help protect our oceans and beach. Don't you agree that in turn, we should do all we can to protect them?

The Ocean Project has ask two things of us today. First, wear blue in honor of the ocean. Secondly, tell people two things they likely don't know about our ocean and how they can help. I've shared one with you, do you know another?

Thank you all for celebrating World Oceans Day with me and a big shout out to Cris of Here and There and Everywhere for hosting the 2nd Annual Oceanic Blog-A-Thon. Visit the link to read Cris' entry, see  who else is participating and even add a link of your own!

13 Thoughtful Comments:

Loui♥ said...

Great minds do think alike..
I had started my post for this project a post last evening..about oysters!after having had them for dinner..Delicious!!
but your post is wonderful..
and so informative as well as beautiful..
I put a link back to you on mine as I think everyone should learn about the Georgia oyster project! and implement it into out state..(if not already being done)
maybe one of these days I'll be on your side of the state and we can meet up..I know we are sisters of the sea!
and do keep looking for the mermaid kissed sea shell sent with love back into the sea from the Mountain Mermaid..
warm oilfree sand hugs!

Maya @ Completely Coastal said...

Thanks Rhonda, awesome post and awesome creatures!! And it is good to know and remember that there are a lot of great people who appreciate life on the planet and in the oceans and do something to protect it (from us human beings -sad but true!).

rjerdee said...

Wow, a behemoth oyster post to honor World Ocean's Day. Thanks for all the info!

CrazyCris said...

Excellent post! Reminded me of some stuff I knew, taught lots of new things!
But looking at those photos also reminds me of how badly oysters can cut your feet... you definitely don't want to go walking around an oyster bed bare-foot!

Thanks again for joining in! :o)

Venus on the half shell said...

Great post!!! Really informative! I live near Jekyll but have never seen the oysters! I'll really have to check them out!

The Decorative Dreamer said...

I am so loving your posts! This one in paticular is chock full of info I never knew about. I had no idea oysters filtrated the water or were in decline! I'm not an oyster eater but I do love going to a good oyster roast party! My husband loves them and always makes me eat atleast one! It would be a shame to see this industry and species die out! I loved hearing about GEORGIA and what they are doing! It's fantastic!

The Florida Blogger said...

I love seafood. I will will eat anything that blows bubbles and lives underwater. But oysters and me are a bad marriage. Slime and snot are the only thing I think about when they are slithering down my throat.

Florida Native Mom said...

I've always been a little afraid of oysters. Weird, right? The oyster beds look like they'd shred a Sherman tank and once opened, well don't get me started on how scary that looks. But after reading your post, maybe I won't be so intimidated after all.

FYI - my favorite ocean creature is a pelican, but I'm not sure pelicans really count since they don't live underwater.

Sue said...

This was a great post...interesting and informative. You know how much I love the ocean and all the sea creatures. If anything at all good has come from this oil disaster...maybe people now realize just what a valuable resource they truly are.

Kat said...

What a great post Rhonda! Love the shot of the Apalachicola oystermen - I just knew any post about oysters had to mention Apalach! Interesting about enhancing the oyster beds. It's funny, my favorite place in the world is a hotbed of oyster production, but I don't like to eat them :) Thanks for sharing this. Kathy

iLoveShelling said...

A smart choice- oysters! I have friends that raise them in Virginia Beach. Thanks again for a great post.

Sierra said...

I didn't even know that they made structures from oysters, how unique! Thanks for the lesson about oysters and I love ocean's day, another reminder to truly take care of our oceans.

Lillian Robinson said...

Fantastic! I love the restoration program. That's awesome! I hope all the people with waterfront property take advantage of this wonderful program.

I have collected many oyster shells from the Florida beaches. I had no idea how much water they could filter. That's amazing!

You really did your homework for this one. Good job!

I love the beach and everything that goes with it! I love the waves lapping at my feet. I love the feel of the sand between my toes. I love the roar of the Pacific and the gentle waves of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. Let's talk about beaches around the world, bonfires, building sandcastles, swaying palm trees, flamingos, clambakes, sunrises and sunsets. If it's tropical, it fits this blog!


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