What Is Shuck and Share?
Shuck and Share, a Marine Discovery Center Program, was created in 2014 to provide oyster shells for shoreline restoration projects in the Indian River Lagoon.
The project was funded by a grant from the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program and allowed the Marine Discovery Center to collect over 50,000 pounds of shells from local restaurants in its first year. Since then, the program has grown to be one of the premiere sources of oyster shell restoration materials in the Indian River Lagoon and beyond.
Shuck and Share prides itself on creating and facilitating strong partnerships with neighboring oyster restoration programs in Florida to create a community working towards the same goal: to protect and restore Florida’s estuaries, rivers, and bays for years to come.
Putting Your Dinner to Work!
Every day, thousands of oysters are devoured in Florida seafood restaurants. Those shells are then discarded and added to our ever-growing landfills. Oyster recycling programs are popping up all over the state to recycle oyster shells back into the environment to create new habitats and restore damaged oyster reefs. By ordering a dozen at one of the participating restaurants, you’re doing your part to advance habitat restoration along the coasts of Florida
Oysters start out as free floating larvae called “spat”. These spat float around in the water column looking for somewhere hard to settle on using a rudimentary eyespot. Once the oyster larva settles onto a hard substrate it begins to grow, however, if the oyster spat does not find a hard surface to settle on, it perishes.
Oysters have the ability to land on anything hard; dock pilings, concrete sea walls, tree trunks…but they prefer to land on other oysters as it is a good indicator that there is enough food and protection in the surrounding habitat to create a successful oyster reef.
Oyster beds provide habitat, food, and protection for a numerous species of animals that live in and around them, making them an important keystone species in Florida’s thriving marine ecosystem. Oysters are also known as ecosystem engineers because of their ability to create or significantly modify the surrounding habitat. Their interconnected reefs help to dissipate wave energy, which in turn reduces erosion along the shoreline.
As filter feeders, oysters help to remove particulate matter from the surrounding water and help to improve overall water quality. A single oyster can filter anywhere from 20 to 50 gallons of water a day!
However, oyster populations in Florida are quickly declining due to over harvesting, brown tide events, rising sea levels, and careless boaters. Globally over 85% of shellfish reefs are gone, and locally our oyster reefs are declining rapidly. By recycling oyster shell from local restaurants, we can help to create new oyster reefs to insure their success for years to come.
We rely on amazing organizations, restaurants, and volunteers throughout the region, and we’re so thankful to all of our partners for helping to make this program a continuing success!
WANT TO VOLUNTEER? To find out how to get involved and learn more about your local oyster recycling project, find your county below – the first organization listed is the contact for that county. If you have any questions, contact [email protected]
Virginia C. Wine,
Conservation Field Technician &
Shuck & Share Coordinator
Restore Our Shores Program
Kelly’s Half Shell Pub
Indian River County
Palm Beach County
St. Johns County
St. Lucie County
"To protect and restore Florida's coastal and Indian River Lagoon ecosystems
through education, research and community stewardship."