A motley assortment of retirees, marine biology students and children gathered yesterday at the St. James Plantation to help build wildlife-protective reefs along the waterway’s banks. St. James residents have worked on this project with UNCW’s Center for Marine Sciences since 2007. This year, the Boys and Girls Club of Southport joined in on the effort, too.
"How’s everybody doing? Do we need a little help?"
For two days, the kids have worked with St. James volunteers and interns from UNCW to reintroduce some 125 bushels of cleaned oyster shells to area waterways. Taylor Ryan is the St. James resident who helped launch a fund for the retirement community’s oyster reef project after attending a UNCW seminar on the benefits of oyster shell recycling. He says the Boys and Girls Club members are in for a special educational treat as a reward for all their hard work.
"Now what most of them asked for yesterday is, the two interns went way out with their seine net to catch fish, and they want to go out and do it, but they weren’t dressed for it. So most of them brought bathing suits, and they’re gonna go out a lot farther today, probably up to their necks, and do some fish catching with the nets."
Ryan describes oysters as “ecosystem engineers” because they help filter water, remove its sediment and provide birds and fish with a natural habitat.