Behind the Scenes banner

An oyster reef made of coquina

Our Restore Our Shores (ROS) team is always looking to try new methods in its efforts to improve the Indian River Lagoon, whether it’s taking on an experimental seagrass planting project or trying out a new material in our oyster restoration projects. One such new material: coquina!

We’ve written about our success moving from mesh bags to build oysters reefs to gabions, cages made of galvanized steel that can hold around 30 pounds of oyster shell. We wanted to move away from plastic, which aligns with our goals of reducing plastic pollution.

Now, our Restore Our Shores team is trying a more natural material for oyster reefs with limestone rather than man-made gabions. Our team established six reef corrals –four using gabions and two using coquina– at an ideal location for oyster recruitment near the Eau Gallie River in Melbourne. A corral involves building a border of shell-filled gabions or limestone, then filling the middle area with loose, recycled oyster shell.

We look forward to sharing more about how these coquina corrals fared compared to its gabion corral neighbors! Oysters provide a natural filter and habitat to the Indian River Lagoon. This makes them and other organisms like clams, seagrass and mangroves, important to keeping this important body of water healthy.

What’s especially impressive about this project: The materials were all sourced locally! The shell comes from local restaurants thanks to our Shuck and Share program, and the coquina comes from a quarry in Titusville.

Our ROS team couldn’t do all of this amazing lagoon work without the help of partners! This oyster reef project was funded by the Brevard County Save Our Indian River Lagoon Project Plan. Oyster restoration is funded by this plan because oyster reefs help remove excess nutrients from the water that fuel algae blooms that are harmful to seagrass and other wildlife.

Brevard Zoo is an independent, not-for-profit organization that receives no recurring government funding for our operating costs. Your generous support enables us to continue to serve our community and continue our vital animal wellness, education and conservation programs.