On January 17, 2019, Coastal Federation members, Town Staff and 85 – 100 volunteers constructed a 60-foot oyster reef along the shoreline of the Sunset Beach Town Park. Volunteers placed the bags along the shoreline at low tide to build one of the oyster reefs for the living shoreline project. The reef, along with additional oyster dome reefs and salt marsh plantings, will form a living shoreline to help protect the park from erosion and create valuable habitat for other aquatic wildlife.

Several television stations and numerous newspaper and magazine reporters were also present. Mayor Weiss remarked “how great it was that the event brought together the Coastal Federation, Town staff, some Council members, an area high school, and dozens of community volunteers for such an important project”.

The living shorelines projects help support the federation’s living shoreline and oyster initiatives. Oyster reefs are often components of living shorelines; they not only help control erosion, but they also help with new oyster growth. The 50 Million Oyster Initiative hopes to create 50 new acres of oyster sanctuary throughout North Carolina with each acre supporting one million oysters by 2020. Oysters improve water quality and fish habitats which benefits fishermen, tourism, and the overall coastal economy for years to come.

The mesh bag, pictured above, is not biodegradable. “They don’t biodegrade, because we need them to hold the shells in place in rough conditions until the baby oysters settle and grow on the shells, and the new oyster reef forms” he told WECT. “The oysters will grow through the bag, essentially sealing the bag in the reef. Many organisms, crabs, shrimp, small fish and others live in the bag and come and go as they please. Having said that, we don’t like to use the plastic mesh unless we have to, and we and lots of other organizations and researchers who do similar projects are testing our new materials that could take the place of the plastic mesh.”

Please stop by the SB Town Park and see the Living Shoreline for yourself!