70 COS Knights Give Back for Oyster Reef Restoration & Living Shoreline Stabilization
By Julia Anderson
This year’s Knights Give Back, held on October 11, marked the eighth anniversary of UCF students, alumni, faculty and staff, coming together to make a lasting impact on the Central Florida community through 24 different service sites, including an on-campus project hosted by the UCF College of Sciences.
The UCF College of Sciences Alumni Chapter assisted Dr. Linda Walters from the UCF Department of Biology with its efforts to restore degraded shorelines and oyster reefs in the Indian River Lagoon. Just over 70 alumni and student volunteers planted/transplanted mangroves and marsh grass and created oyster restoration mats for future deployments. Project supplies, meals, beverages and t-shirts were made available through the support of CSX.
Oysters are an essential species in estuaries to filter water (50 gallons/day/oyster), remove nitrogen, protect shorelines, and provide food and hiding places for juvenile fishes, shrimp and crabs. Living shorelines provide better long-term, economical protection of the area in terms of sea level rise, as well as the ability to stop erosion by accreting sediments. This ongoing oyster restoration project has been in effect since 2007. In the past seven years, 68 reefs (more than 2 acres) have been restored and approximately 7 million oysters have been added to the Lagoon. To date, approximately 1000 meters of shoreline has been stabilized. More than 45,000 volunteers have contributed a total of 50,000 hours to make this possible.