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WELCOME: The oyster recycling program “Sink Your Shucks” was founded by the Harte Research Institute in 2009  by Dr. Jennifer Pollack, Assistant Professor in the Department of Life Sciences at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMUCC) and Dr. Paul Montagna, HRI’s Endowed Chair for Ecosystems and Modeling at Harte Research Institute. The program was the first in Texas that reclaims oyster shells from local restaurants and returns them to our local waters providing both substrate to form new reefs and habitat for fish, crabs and other organisms.

Returning shells to our bays requires some coordination. Shells are picked up twice weekly from restaurants and transported to the Port of Corpus Christi where they are quarantined. The shell is then moved from the stockpile location to various sites. Over 5 acres of oyster reef habitat has been restored throughout the Mission-Aransas Estuary using over 2,400 cubic yards of recycled oyster shells and crushed concrete. In the spring of 2012, volunteers participated in community shell-bagging events to create the building blocks of an educational reef in St. Charles Bay, adjacent to Goose Island State Park.  Thanks to our volunteers, over 1800 mesh bags were filled with approximately 5 gallons of shell each for a total of 40,000 lbs. of shell!  These bags were then placed in the bay to create new oyster reef habitat.

Explore this site and learn more about this process and the importance of oysters in our waters. Check out “Sammy’s Corner” to explore our resources for teachers.