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Biloxi Bay

This is a sample pulled from an oyster reef the Conservancy created in Bay St. Louis. Can you see the juvenile oysters?

Anyone who’s organized or attended an oyster bake knows that there are a number of things that make such events a success.

The same is true for conservation projects—it takes a lot of help to make them a success.

In recent months, Conservancy staff members have been working on numerous projects along the coast, particularly in and around Biloxi Bay. While the Conservancy has been active along the Gulf coast for years, these activities are paving the way for a better future for residents, businesses and beach goers alike.

Creating an Oyster Reef

In May, 30 acres of subtidal (below surface) oyster reef were installed in Biloxi Bay. The process (pictured above) involves shooting large water hoses (‘water cannons’) at oyster shells piled on the deck of flat barges, moving the shells into the water where they become places for juvenile oysters already in the water to grow. The oyster reef project was completed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.

Developing a Unified Plan

Other partners have been involved in the process of developing a Conservation Action Plan for the Biloxi Bay area. Representatives from federal and state agencies, businesses, schools and nonprofit organizations gathered on three separate occasions to discuss collaborative ideas on making the Biloxi Bay even better. The idea is to have a unified approach to improving the land and water areas, avoid duplication of effort, and have a greater overall positive impact on the plants, animals and people. A final document is expected to be completed in late summer that can be used by land and water managers in their future decision-making and fundraising.

Developing a Living Shoreline

A third component of the Conservancy’s work in the Biloxi Bay area is the development of a living shoreline. This process provides options for stabilizing coastal shorelines through the use of natural materials including plants, sand, oyster reef, small amounts of stone and other products. Living shorelines help reduce soil erosion, provide habitats for shoreline plants and animals, reduce storm surge impacts, improve water quality and, often, property values. You can find out more information about living shorelines at NOAA Habitat Conservation.

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