Florida Tech and Indian Harbour Beach Girl Scouts Pull Together for Oyster Mat Project in Lagoon

MELBOURNE, FLA.—The Florida Institute of Technology Indian River Lagoon Research Institute (IRLRI) is partnering with Girl Scout Troop 156 (Citrus Council) based in Indian Harbour Beach Nov. 22 and 24 to build oyster mats and oyster bags and to deploy them in the IRL. University faculty and about a dozen Girl Scouts, ages 5-10, with the help of Florida Tech undergraduate and graduate students, will create a “living dock” in the Eau Gallie area of the lagoon.

The project is intended to increase oyster growth by providing a suitable habitat and improve water quality by filtration as oysters are natural filters; adult oysters can filter up to 50 gallons of water each day. Donors, including Pentair Aquatic Eco-Systems and Lowe’s Home Improvement, provided supplies for mats and recycled oyster shells for the project.

“We expect to get some good research information from this effort,” said Robert Weaver, IRLRI director and Florida Tech faculty member in the Department of Marine and Environmental Systems. “The scouts will help us establish a baseline as to what will survive and we’ll test some of our ideas of how to get oysters to grow.”

Mat assembly will take place on Friday, Nov. 22, at 3 p.m., on campus. The bags will be deployed on Sunday, Nov. 24, at 9 a.m.; they will be attached to dock pilings at the lagoon site near Ballard Park to act as a magnet for the growth of oysters and other water-filtering animals.

Involved from the university are Professor Weaver, Professor Geoffrey Swain, Professor Kevin Johnson, and Holly Sweat, a Florida Tech oceanography doctoral student. Marsha Meyers, leader of Troop 156, and daughter Abby, who is 10-years-old, have volunteered their property as a test site and provide the energy behind the scouts’ involvement.

For more information, or to volunteer, contact Weaver at rjweaver@fit.edu.

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