FL.O.O.R. monitors the development and health of natural and constructed oyster reefs in the Indian River Lagoon and St. Lucie Estuary. Recruitment, growth, and survival of oysters is measured to evaluate the success of oyster restoration projects and to better understand oyster health within the estuary.
An ongoing effort at FOS is monthly monitoring of spat recruitment at sites throughout the Indian River Lagoon and St. Lucie Estuary. Cleaned, disarticulated oyster shells, collected from local restaurants, are strung in pairs onto a PVC T-bar (pictured to the left). The array allows the shells to hang, suspended in the water column at the same elevation of live oysters in adjacent reefs. If conditions are favorable, spat will settle onto the hanging oyster shells. The shells are swapped out monthly, taken back to the lab and the spat is counted. Additionally, a small subset of shells is harvested bi-annually to assess oyster condition index. Collectively, these data can be used to better understand oyster health within the lagoon and estuary.
Newly settled spat on an oyster shell.
Oyster gametes under the microscope
Monthly oyster spat per shell counts in the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) (blue) and St. Lucie Estuary (SLE) (orange). Data are means ± SE. Each month oyster shells are deployed at 6 sites (n = 3) and then collected a month later.