Volusia County restaurants help oyster population

Have a nice oyster dinner at a restaurant in Volusia County and you may be helping the environment.

“The restaurants are super stoked to be able to recycle their shells,” said Jessy Wayles, the conservation science coordinator at the Marine Discovery Center in New Smryna Beach.

“When we take oyster shells out to eat them and we don’t put the shells back – we’re essentially taking the habitat away and only leaving mud,” she explained.

That’s why the Shuck and Share program started about five years ago. Now, about 16 restaurants in Volusia County are involved and the shells are piling up.

After customers eat the Oysters the shells are picked up, quarantined and then bagged. Wayles says they’ve made more than 20,000 bags, which is about 300 tons in shells.

“By putting the oyster shells back onto the shoreline or into oyster reefs – we’re providing that stable source of oyster shell for baby oysters to attack onto and create new oyster reefs,” Wayles said.

The shells spark growth and filter the water in the troubled Indian River Lagoon.