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Manatee County invites volunteers to Sept. 21st oyster reef restoration event

MANATEE COUNTY — Do your part to improve local water quality at an oyster reef restoration volunteer event Saturday, Sept. 21 at 8 a.m. at Perico Bayou.

Manatee County Parks and Natural Resources Department, Sarasota Bay Estuary Program, and Tampa Bay Estuary Program are hosting this morning of community service as part of National Estuaries Week, a nationwide celebration of our bays and estuaries and the many benefits they provide to local communities.

Volunteers will meet at the point where Manatee Avenue crosses over Perico Bayou. Participants will work together to create a “bucket brigade” to place recycled oyster shells. Creating this artificial oyster reef provides a place for juvenile oysters to settle and grow. Similar oyster reef restoration projects have been successful in nearby Robinson and Perico Preserves.

“This is an opportunity to make a positive impact in our environment and help build a community in the bay literally from the bottom up,” Manatee County Parks & Natural Resources’ Programming, Volunteer, and Education Division Manager Aedan Stockdale said. “More oysters mean cleaner water and cleaner water promotes more oysters. These oysters will provide food and habitat for fish, which will in turn attract a diversity of birds and other animals as well as provide recreational and commercial opportunities for people.”

Oysters siphon water through their bodies to obtain food, cleaning the water by removing excess nutrients. With each individual oyster filtering up to 50 gallons of water per day, every acre of restored oyster reef filters nearly 40 million gallons of water each day. Oyster reefs like this one protect the health of our waterways and help shelter shorelines from storm damage and erosion.

Large-scale oyster restoration projects require many partners to be successful. Scientists with the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program provided te