Protecting Pelican Island

March 10, 2017
Ken Warren, Public Affairs Specialist
US Fish & Wildlife, Ecological Services Office, Vero Beach

Dozens of people got their feet wet in the Indian River Lagoon in Florida recently while building an oyster reef breakwater. The reef is designed to prevent further erosion of iconic Pelican Island, which has already decreased in size 60 percent from its original 5.5 acres.

Over a span of about six hours, staff and volunteers from several agencies transported (by truck and by boat) about 600 bags of fossilized shells and stacked them around a small mangrove island near Pelican Island proper at the national wildlife refuge that bears its name.

“We expect oyster spat, that is very young oysters, to attach themselves to the reef, but it remains to be seen if they survive to become adults. Regardless, the shell we’re laying today will provide habitat for a variety of oyster community species and will provide a breakwater to protect Pelican Island,” says biologist Patrick Pitts of the Service.

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