Two oyster habitats completed in Sarasota bay
The Sarasota Bay Estuary Program (SBEP) recently completed two new oyster habitats in Sarasota Bay, on White Beach in Little Sarasota Bay and along the eastern shore of Manatee County south of Tidy Island. At White Beach, the project increased the footprint of an older oyster habitat established in 2005. The reef in Manatee County is a newly established oyster habitat. Both reefs are located in shallow water.
Oyster beds represent a unique and valuable component of the Sarasota Bay ecosystem. They provide structural habitat for many species of fish and invertebrates. Oysters are also valued for their ability to improve water quality through their prolific filtering capacity. Many oyster beds in Sarasota Bay were destroyed as a result of physical disturbances associated with rapid coastal development. Some oyster beds were also buried under sediments.
As the reefs mature over the next few years, SBEP will monitor new oyster growth and reef colonization by fish and invertebrates. SBEP will continue to evaluate opportunities for improving oyster habitat throughout Sarasota Bay with the long term goal of improving water quality and future fishing opportunities. This project was partially funded by The Nature Conservancy.