CBA and Gulf Power to Extend Oyster Reef in Bluewater Bay
June 11, 2014 by SoWal Staff
The Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA) of Northwest Florida State College and Gulf Power are extending a constructed oyster reef in Bluewater Bay near the Marina Cove Townhomes. The reef was originally designed and installed by CBA as a breakwater to impede shoreline erosion. Years later, not only has the reef prevented further property loss, it has shed new light on the term living shoreline.
“Our oyster reefs do more than just reduce shoreline erosion; they provide critical habitat for intertidal marine life. In addition, they promote the growth of live oysters, which filter water. One adult oyster is capable of filtering 50 gallons of water in one day! When you consider the number of reefs we have constructed in the Choctawhatchee Bay, and the thousands of oysters living on each reef, the impact on the water quality and overall ecology of our Bay is remarkable. Not to mention all of the juvenile species that call our reefs their home. In a sense, we build marine communities that benefit both the land and sea,” says Sarah Davis, Fund Development and Marketing Coordinator for the Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance (CBA).
When Scott Jackson, Vice President of the Northwest Florida State College Foundation and Office Manager at Gulf Power, volunteered to help with CBA’s reef construction in Fort Walton Beach in March 2014, he developed a fascination with CBA’s concept of a living shoreline. Jackson’s concern for the future of our water resources led to the partnership between CBA and Gulf Power’s volunteer group in Bluewater Bay.
A living shoreline is an alternative to seawalls or other hard structure on waterfront property. It is a management option that uses living plants, oyster shells, sand fill, or a combination of natural structures with riprap or offshore breakwaters to protect property from erosion. Living shorelines present an ecological and economic alternative that is viable for low-erosional settings in Choctawhatchee Bay.
“CBA is very excited to team up with Gulf Power on this project. Partnerships like this increase the impacts of CBA’s efforts. Everyone needs to know what we are doing and that they can join our efforts to make a difference,” Davis explains. “After all, our waterways sustain our local economy, and there is a fine line that balances the two. That fine line is where you will find CBA, fighting for the ecological balance that will ensure the success of this precious resource for the future of our community.”