Contact us in your planning stages as we are happy to share research and information as you look for a solutions to your living shoreline issues.
It could be the question of avoiding erosion by providing wave attenuation with a product that has proven success over the past 23 years. Starting with research sponsored by the US Army Corp of engineers in the 1990. Or it could be similar to this project designed to protect an Audubon Bird Sanctuary in Tampa Bay.
Aesthetics was an important factor in the design of Reef Balls. From the water it’s not a sore thumb against the shoreline. The above photo was taken 2 years into the project. Now phase two is underway with more Reef Balls.
Sometimes the living shoreline solution may be a scattering of Reef Balls. This technique is proving EFH as well as the required relief for re-establishing oysters. Reef Balls are the most effective living shoreline solution because of the complexity of the artificial reef modules design. Various shapes and sizes of holes, the concave and convex shape of the holes, the hollow center, all the surfaces are curved, adding a benefit in wave attenuation as well as providing the eddie currents for filter feeders. Complex artificial reef modules such as the Reef Ball have proven to provide a better habitat for crustaceans. Other studies have shown that complex AR modules can match the area’s existing habitat in biomass.Notice the opening around the base of the Reef Balls, when on field survey be sure to look inside, the diversity of fish and crustaceans will amaze you. The waverly base of the Reef Balls is often the location of stone crabs.
Sooner or later a storm will cross your living shoreline. Research has shown that living shorelines add resilience. One of the key species that stabilize the shoreline are marsh grasses with roots that anchor to depths of 10ft. The catch is many shorelines have lost marsh grasses due to wave action from boat traffic. The marshes are typically not high energy coast, but to re-establish the marsh grasses wave attenuation is needed. Reef Balls provide that wave attenuation, the design of any breakwater system requires some in depth studies of wind direction, historic wave characteristics, currents and many other factors. Regardless, a productive living shoreline needs a flow of water. Reef Balls, allow that water flow and they have a track record of staying in place in large storms.
SAG (submerged aquatic vegetation) is important to re-establish, however wave action also has an impact on these grasses. Existing seawalls cause a reflective wave adding turbulence on the seafloor. As the waves reflect from the seawall, they meet the next incoming wave and the resulting action is a doubling of the wave height, that also affects the bottom so stopping that reflecting wave is of high importance. A living shoreline solution for areas of seawall that you cannot move offshore to install the breakwater is Eco-Rap. First developed in 2015 these modules can be placed along an existing seawall providing wave attenuation, resilience and as a bonus you get IFH as well as crustaceans. The Eco-Rap in Palmetto, Florida helped in the restoration of sea grass beds close to the seawall.
Additional research in seagrass beds has shown an importance of a rock outcropping for the juvenile stone crab to settle, in Florida placing a Reef Ball in a seagrass bed, is not readily accepted, but that is another things to think of as you working on the extended shoreline. The small microhabitats are proven to be a great form of restoration.
More information on best practices using Reef Balls will an oral presentation at Restore America’s Estuaries Conference Dec. 2016. Specific information on using Reef Balls for Shellfish Restoration will be an oral presentation at the International Conference on Shellfish Restoration in November.