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Oyster recycling in Rockport helps build new reefs

"Sink Your Shucks" is an initiative that started in 2009 with Harte Research Institute leaders to recycle oyster shells.

ROCKPORT, Texas — "Sink Your Shucks" is an initiative that started in 2009 with Harte Research Institute leaders. It's a way they recycle oyster shells. However, like most things during the pandemic, the event faced challenges with limitations on gathering volunteers together.

"Oysters worldwide are depleted about 90 percent of what they once were. So, by putting the shells out their oysters prefer when they hatch out to set on their own shell, so it attracts the oysters," said Gail Sutton, the associate director at the institute.

Sutton's group collects the oyster shells from local restaurants and wholesalers; instead of trashing them, they bag them up and put them in the water.

"We believe in being a good neighbor and this is one of the ways that we show that we are good neighbors," said Beth Becerra, the communications advisor, Gulf Coast Growth Ventures.

Becerra was one among several volunteers who helped kick off the first "Sink Your Shucks," event of 2021.

"It's just a good, easy, simple way to see recycling in a full as we call closing the loop, you know, you see it start to finish," said Sutton.

The Harte Research Institute Group hopes to continue these efforts moving forward.

"We're hoping to open up again every March, April and May, where people, young, old, everybody's welcome to come out here and bag oyster shell and help us put it in the water. Today we built about 25 acres of new oyster reef," said Sutton.

For the latest updates on coronavirus in the Coastal Bend, click here.

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