Living Reef Working

Oct 17, 2018

To the Editor:

As a regular volunteer with ReClam the Bay in Beach Haven, I’m pleased to share exciting new results of the living reef we’ve assisted in building off the western shore of Mordecai Island.

The reef, constructed of clam shell bags filled by volunteers from the Mordecai Land Trust, RCTB and friends, provides three major benefits. It provides habitat that attracts a wide range of species, the reef’s shellfish are filtering the water to aid in the quality of the bay, and the reef shell bags are being covered in sediment, which is protecting Mordecai Island from further erosion.

To verify that the reef is actually building a living shoreline, RCTB volunteers formalized a “critter count” to monitor species growth by regularly examining shell bags for signs of life. We select random shell bags from various spots around the reef, bring the bags back to our Beach Haven upweller site, and do a complete count of the living and dead organisms in each bag.

Our latest results indicate that the reef is enabling rapid as well as sustained habitation. Newly placed bags are colonized immediately; in as little as two months a variety of species are easily visible. Shell bags that were placed two and three years ago show healthy population growth among species.

In addition to oysters, RCTB has documented at least 25 species inhabiting the reef, including black and white claw mud crabs, ribbed mussels, limy tubeworms and amphipods, as well as vegetation like sea lettuce. The presence of these species confirms that the reef has become a viable intertidal community that adds to the food chain, in addition to its aforementioned benefits.

I look forward to providing future updates of our critter counts and other new developments as part of RCTB’s mission to provide environmental education to the public. I encourage people to visit our Beach Haven upweller, one of the other RCTB upweller locations, or stop by RCTB’s education station at one of the many community events we participate in throughout the year. Visit our website and check out our calendar of events to find a location convenient for you.

J. Albert Nitche, Beach Haven captain

ReClam the Bay



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