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One of a kind Oyster Reef installed in Beaufort

Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 8:21 PM EDT
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BEAUFORT, N.C. (WITN) - A new project aimed at helping rebuild shorelines around estuaries in Eastern North Carolina is now on display in Gallants Channel in Beaufort, and it doesn’t look like any oyster reef you’ve seen before.

The 50-foot long octopus and 15 life-size synchronized swimmers have been installed on a sandbar. The creation was put into place just over a week ago by the sculptor who created them and a team of marine scientists and the oysterman who owns the shellfish lease it sits on.

Carolyn Henne, a sculptor and professor at Florida State University spent months designing and planning the oyster reef after consulting with UNC Marine Ecologist Dr. Niels Lindquist and Sandbar Oyster Company Owner David Cessna.

Dr. Lindquist explained, “It’s combining the science behind oyster ecology and oyster aquaculture because we are putting this on a shellfish lease owned by Sandbar Oyster Company and it was the perfect sort of canvas to put this structure on.”

Both Cessna and Dr. Lindquist helped create a new biodegradable cement substrate for the reef that the oysters will begin to settle on in just over a year.

“The take home would be to see and value oysters for the real champions they are to coastal clean environments and to realize that nature changes over time,” said Dr. Lindquist.

Henne says being a part of this project has been very rewarding, and will be hugely beneficial to the estuary it now sits in. “It eventually gets covered in these oysters and it’s just an incredible opportunity for building back these shorelines that have been lost,” explained Henne.

The structure is still visible with all of its vibrant colors at low tide.

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