Oyster Shell Recycling

Bluffton South Carolina

From the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources

Oyster shell recycling image.Why Recycle Oyster Shells?

Oysters are more than a seafood delicacy! They help the environment in the following ways:

  • Filtering (adult oysters filter up to 2.5 gallons of water per hour, improving water quality in the process)
  • Providing habitat (oysters build reefs, which provide habitat for fish, shrimp, crabs, and other animals)
  • Controlling erosion (oyster reefs are natural breakwaters that protect shorelines).

Adult oysters release millions of fertilized eggs in the summer months. During their 2 to 3 weeks of development, larvae (young, free-swimming oysters) may be carried great distances from where they were released. When development is complete, young oysters must attach to a hard substrate, ideally another oyster shell. If no suitable substrate exists, the oyster dies. Juvenile oysters (known as “spat”) require several years to reach harvest size, but they begin to reproduce within a year, completing the life cycle.

Harvesting adult oysters interrupts this cycle by removing shell from the system. Replanting oyster shell is an important way of ensuring that suitable habitat is available for future generations of oysters. Complete the cycle by recycling!

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