Program Update - February 2024
The Living Docks program launched a pilot study in April of 2023. Thirty (30) docks within the St. Lucie Estuary and the Indian River Lagoon hosted oyster restoration mats. Fifteen of the thirty were biologically assessed for community shifts across the benthic community. The benthic community consists of organisms that are sessile and aid in filtration of the surrounding water column. In total 111.5 ft of surface area was deployed to allow for the settlement of these filter feeding organisms. The data collected from this research is in the process of being published for future restoration initiatives.
Florida Tech (Program Founder)
- Jones Pier
- Martin County
- Local Citizens of Martin County
- Students of Forest Grove Middle School
- Girl Scout Troop
- FOS Volunteers
- FOS Summer Camp hosted by the Education Department
- Assisted Florida Tech Grad Students with their research through this project
About the Living Docks Program
The Indian River Lagoon (IRL) has experienced an increase in urbanization and freshwater discharge, which has led to an increase in algal blooms, subsequently decreasing oyster reefs and seagrass beds. In order to combat these changes, Florida Oceanographic and Florida Tech have collaborated to expand the Living Docks Program to the southern half of the IRL, including the St. Lucie Estuary.
A Living Dock consists of 6 - 10 mats made from aquaculture grade mesh, with 60 - 80 dried oyster shells, which are then attached to dock pilings. The chemical composition in the shells attracts oysters, as well as other bivalves through chemical cues, and acts as natural habitat for filter-feeding organisms to settle on. In return, these communities will attract larger organisms such as fish, dolphins, and turtles, creating a diverse ecosystem.
The creation and deployment of the oyster mats is fully inclusive with both children and adults participating in the process. The Living Docks project is driven by citizens and the utilization of their docks for placement of oyster restoration mats in the IRL. Projects such as Living Docks that are at a local scale and manageable by the general public of all ages, are one way that the public can get involved and make a difference.