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Local group helping preserve Southwest Florida's waters one oyster shell at a time

Posted at 6:55 AM, May 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-05 08:13:11-04

MATLACHA, Fla. — A few good samaritans are going beneath the surface to help keep Southwest Florida’s waters clean.

It’s through a group called the Florida Fishery Foundation and on the sunny shores of Matlacha oyster shells are being drilled.

"Today we are making these oysters which, basically, we tie some knots like these and then put the oyster on top. We keep repeating that and you should get this.”

What you get are oysters on a rope. You’ve probably seen these before but what’s their purpose?

"The whole idea with the oysters themselves is the filtration of the water," says Dr. Michael Dreikorn, founding board member of the Florida Fishery Foundation. "The amount of filtration one single oyster provides for our environment is phenomenal.”

The Florida Fishery Foundation is a local group that, for the last two years, has made it its mission to help Southwest Florida’s ecosystem.

"What the oysters will do is clean the water and allow fish a place to hunt and birds," said George Halper, President/Founder of the Florida Fishery Foundation. "It’ll also be a barrier against hurricanes with these oysters filtering 50 gallons a day, it is the best natural way to do things.”

You heard that right 50 gallons of water filtered a day. All of these shells you see are donated by local restaurants.

"We have volunteers that will go around to some of the local restaurants and will bring those shells back here and we will process them, sterilize them and make them returnable to the ocean," says Dr. Dreikorn.

And part of that volunteerism comes from the local scout troops.

"It makes me feel very great because I can do something for my community,” says Aiden Morgan with Scouts Troop 777.

There is, of course, some assembly required. But the payoff is massive.

“I would say probably helping to reproduce the sea life and the fish so then you get more animals and it helps with the fish to have shade and all of that kind of stuff,” said Kaylee Wenrich with Scouts Troop 2020 when asked her favorite part of the assembly.

And the mission remains the same- focusing on the future with the next generation.

Says Dr. Dreikorn, "If we can engage locally, get the citizens, the people, the kids involved in our ecology and doing the right thing- that is a formula for success.”

If you're interested in getting involved with the Florida Fishery Foundation, you can learn more information online right here.