Learning about the impact of Hurricane Ike
on oyster beds in the Gulf.

This is the message we received during a field trip kicking off our participation in the 5th National Conference on Coastal and Estuarine Habitat Restoration in Galveston Island, Texas. The trip, originally billed as an opportunity to see how Galveston Bay oysters have recovered from Hurricane Ike, was planned before the BP Oil Spill, when all efforts were focused on restoring hurricane damage to oyster beds and processing plants back in 2008. At that time, about 8,000 acres of oyster beds in the Gulf were covered by sedimentation, which was killing them.
To recover from Ike, oyster companies, resource agencies and other invested parties dumped rock and other suitable oyster reef material throughout the Gulf, creating new substrate for oyster growth. On land, homes and businesses were rebuilt, all in preparation to getting back to the work.

But then BP oil spill dealt another blow to the oyster industry. Would the oysters-and the oyster industry-withstand the double whammy?
Our first stop on the oyster field trip was a visit with the Halili family, who run Prestige Oysters, one of the biggest oyster companies in the U.S. Although oyster season opened this month, the Halili’s expressed concern about public perceptions regarding eating oysters from the BP-oil-laden waters from the Gulf. Despite assurances from government officials that oysters and other Gulf seafood are safe to eat, the Halili’s reported that some regular customers were turning them down due to public fears.

For our second stop of the field trip, we went to Topwater Grill on April Fool Point in San Leon, Texas, to taste the local oysters for ourselves. I ate the Oysters Diablo and can attest that they taste better than ever. After eating them, I feel better than ever, and I’m ready to hit the rest of the conference!
If you were offered a Gulf oyster today, would you eat it?

Further Reading

Meet Conservation Biologist Nolan Schillerstrom
Get to know Allyson Gibson, Biohabitats Extern
Get to Know Graphic Designer Joey Marshall
Evolution: A New Leadership Team for Biohabitats
Biohabitats receives ASLA’s highest honor

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Thoughts on Novel Ecosystems
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