Oyster Reef Restoration

Why is oyster-reef restoration important in North Carolina?

Oyster reefs were once common along the North Carolina coast, but have declined significantly in recent decades. Oyster-reef restoration has become a primary way to re-establish oysters in estuarine areas, but often restoration efforts are not as successful as they could be and rigorous benchmarks of success are not always defined. As investment in restoration becomes more costly, it is important to select optimal locations for reefs that maximize their productivity and longevity to obtain the maximum possible "bang for the restoration buck".

Project Objectives

Researchers from the NCNERR and the University of North Carolina Institute of Marine Sciences (UNC-IMS) received a grant from the North Carolina Sea Grant program for a project to quantify the structural evolution of oyster reefs to guide restoration efforts. The project will provide critical information about oyster-reef growth that is necessary for predicting the sustainability of the fishery, as well as the ecosystem services the reef structure provides in rapidly changing coastal environments. This research has three primary objectives:

  • Provide benchmarks of reef growth (in vertical and horizontal dimensions)
  • Guide restoration projects toward areas where oyster-reef growth is deemed highest
  • Provide an accurate measure of oyster-reef sustainability to increased rates of sea-level rise

The project is currently funded from February 2012- January 2014. Results and findings will be posted on this page as they become available. 

Google Earth Map Embedded

In order to view elevation data relevant to this project, please open Google Earth and download the following files: