Reconstructing an Oyster Reef
Dawn in Matagorda Harbor, a gateway for yachting and recreational fishing in Matagorda Bay.
Staff from The Nature Conservancy and Texas A&M University—Corpus Christi collect samples from the bay bottom prior to reef construction.
A monitoring crew secures sediment samples for later lab analysis. The samples help document the biodiversity of marine species that live amid the sediment.
This Texas grunt fish lives at the bottom of Matagorda Bay; once Half Moon Reef is complete, researchers hope this species and many others will make a new home in its complex structure and differently-sized niches.
The historic Half Moon Reef is functionally dead, but it still holds a few treasures. This oyster spat was pulled from the bottom of the bay.
The Conservancy’s Mark Dumesnil, associate director of coastal restoration, with a pile of limestone construction material behind him. The varied sizes of rock will create a more complex reef structure, which will enhance the reef’s biodiversity.
A crane rinses the limestone rock to minimize rock dust during construction. Half Moon Reef will have crevices and niches of all different shapes and sizes, which will attract all types of sea life.
There is still some life left in Matagorda Bay--a few miles from Half Moon Reef is Oyster Lake, an area rife with live oysters and an important example of a natural living shoreline. These shells have piled up along the lake’s shoreline due to wave action along the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
As the sun sets on the work barge, it’s important to remember the Gulf of Mexico is considered the last, best hope for oyster reef restoration.