Volunteers begin the process that will turn these oyster shells into an artificial reef that will benefit the Indian River Lagoon. / Photos courtesy St. Lucie County

“Recycled” oyster shells will soon find new life as an artificial reef, benefiting the health of the Indian River Lagoon.

On Saturday, April 28, volunteers headed for Harbour Pointe Park in Fort Pierce. They scooped up tens of thousands of oyster shells stored on-site, then bagged them to create “modules” that will end up in the Indian River Lagoon as an artificial reef (photo at bottom).

These round modules will create new habitats for fish, filter unwanted nutrients out of the water, and help to stabilize the shoreline.

The volunteers at the oyster-shell-bagging and module-making event in Fort Pierce.

The event, organized by St. Lucie County, took place at the Harbour Pointe Park Staging Area. Under the St. Lucie County Artificial Reef Program (SLCARP), small amounts of donated materials, such as oyster shells, concrete and steel — even old Florida Power & Light power poles — are stored in the staging area.

Once about 500 tons of materials — enough to fill a barge — are collected, they are loaded onto the barge and taken to wherever they’re needed.

Program has saved 4,000 tons of materials

This reduces the cost of creating artificial reefs and allows the county to accept donated materials in small quantities and store them prior to deployment. So far, according to St. Lucie County, the SLCARP has accepted more than 4,000 tons of materials that otherwise would have been trucked to a landfill.

The new oyster modules.

For more information, and to view underwater videos, about the St. Lucie County Artificial Reef Program, visit www.stlucieco.gov/departments-services/a-z/public-works/port-of-fort-pierce/artificial-reef-program.