Partnership Results in Deep Dive for Oyster Research

Building for oysters

In partnership with the Coastal Studies Institute (CSI), The Nature Conservancy (TNC) built a series of oyster reefs along a highly eroding shoreline at a TNC conservation easement located just north of the Institute. This unique partnership has created an opportunity for ongoing research on the effectiveness of using nature to reduce shoreline erosion.  This location was selected using our NC Restoration Explorer application which is part of our Coastal Resilience web mapping tool.

Constructing 3 oyster reef sills in the Pamlico Sound to reduce shoreline erosion and wave energy while increasing habitat that attract oysters and fish. Photo: Aaron McCall/TNC

A living lab

This marsh shoreline along Roanoke Island, North Carolina is an erosion hot spot, losing 6 – 10 feet per year. The marsh is critical habitat important for water quality and fish in the Pamlico Sound, so it required a stabilization technique that wouldn’t heavily interfere with the shoreline and shallow water habitat. A calcium-based material was used to construct 3 sills in front of the marsh. These sills reduce wave energy while increasing habitat that attract oysters and fish. This site will function as a conveniently located living laboratory for researchers and students at CSI. This will provide new insight into the viability and effectiveness of oyster sills for shoreline stabilization while serving as an educational tool for students.



Coastal Resilience tool IDs site

The Conservancy created the Restoration Explorer application (app) to help CSI Researchers and other coastal managers  identify where they can use more natural techniques like this to stabilize their shores.  Using a map, this tool identifies where shoreline conditions are suitable to ensure successful projects. In North Carolina, Restoration Explorer identifies sites for subtidal oyster reef restoration within the Pamlico Sound.