Project aims to boost oyster population

Push to restore oyster population

MURRELLS INLET, SC (WMBF) - There's a new push to help the environment the Grand Strand. Coastal Carolina University marine biology professor Keith Walters is leading the Coastal Oyster Recycling and Restoration Initiative (CORRI).

Half a dozen local restaurants will collect and save leftover oyster shells to help reverse the trend on the declining oyster population.

"We're going to take the shells and then with local volunteers, we're going to bag them and then put them back out in six local tidal creek systems," explained Walters.

It's a hefty task, Walter said. Shells collected from participating restaurants in one run weighed about one ton.

"We serve a lot of oysters on the half-shell and a lot of oysters that are fried or boiled," said David McMillan with Drunken Jacks. The seafood restaurant on the Marsh Walk is one of the eateries participating in COORI. McMillan says it's important for his business and for the local environment.

Collected shells will be used by his to team to create oyster reefs in six different spots. The locations are three swash tidal creeks at White Point, Singleton and Withers, and three tidal creeks: Hog Inlet, Murrells Inlet and North Inlet.

Walters says the goal is boost oyster reproduction, and there are benefits to the reefs beyond improving the oyster population. The reefs attract fish and improve water quality. There are already similar projects happening in other part of the Carolina coastline. "This is the first push to get it going in the Grand Strand," Walters said.

The initiative is funded and supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and FishAmerica and in total there are $130,000 going toward the project.

Walters is looking for interested student and community volunteers to participate in the project this spring and summer. For more information or to contribute to the project, contact Keith Walters at 843-349-2477 or

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