Monday, March 3, 2014

Shell Recycling

Hi Sea Fans!

Everybody's heard: "REDUCE REUSE RECYCLE" but that's usually when we're talking about paper, plastic and cans.  Now there are people who are recycling a natural resource…sea shells.

For generations, used oyster shells were used to build roads, driveways and for building houses, but now there’s another use for these ugly shells.  Natural oyster shell is the best material on which to grow new oysters and restore oyster reefs. 

Young oysters (spat) settle and grow on oyster shells. 
The shells can be placed on the bottom of the sea in areas with a natural supply of spat or in tanks with spat so that the young ‘spat-on-shell’ can be moved to the estuaries in restoration programmes.

Oysters and the reefs that they form provide extremely important functions in estuaries. They filter water, removing pollutants, sediment and excess algae; and they help control shoreline erosion (their shape helps reduce wave energy).  As oyster shell accumulates (collects) and builds up into hard sponge-like reefs, they also provide habitat (a home) for other marine animals including fish, shrimp, crab, eels, starfish, mussels and many other marine species. 

Given the shortage of shell, groups like the Oyster Recovery Partnership in the Chesapeake Bay area have developed shell recycling programmes to save this natural resource.
Shells that have been collected from restaurants and the public.
Hundreds of restaurants, caterers and seafood wholesalers are already a part of such recycling programmes.  What can you do?  Well, if you eat out or your mom buys seafood then tell her about the shell recycling and get her to check out the website that has the list of businesses that are members of the shell recycling programme (see for a list of members in the Chesapeake Bay area).

Other states have also taken to this idea so take a look, maybe your state has a recycling programme that you can help with:

New Orleans (
North Carolina (

When checking out the web, I found a programme in New Zealand ( too.  So whether you’re in South Africa, Australia, Europe or Asia, Google it, you may have a programme near you!

Have a great week Sea Fans, enjoy the weather and the snorkelling if you live by the sea in the southern hemisphere!

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