We met at the VIMS boat basin at 8:30 am on a beautiful autumn morning. Several participants were seasoned veterans of the process and quickly got to work disassembling reef ball molds from a previous build. The group, along with other volunteers and CBF members, were anticipating delivery of concrete at 10am and we were ready – but the truck had issues. After much waiting for our concrete, the bucket brigade began. We finished early with many hands making light work and even had time to help with stuffing concrete by hand into the smaller “lego-style” reefs designed for homeowners.
So what does CBF’s Virginia Oyster Restoration Manager, Jackie Shannon, think of YRSCB participation in this project?
“We are so grateful for the support that the York River and Small Coastal Basin Roundtable has provided the Chesapeake Bay Foundation over the past four years. The funding and volunteerism that this group has provided has resulted in the construction of 100 oyster reef balls. I am pleased to say that we are working with other restoration partners to install the reef balls into the Piankatank River next spring (2017)!
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) owns a significant amount of land in the Piankatank watershed – many acres that border the river directly. TNC contacted CBF about partnering on a project that would protect some stretches of their shoreline that are experiencing active erosion. Over the last several months, CBF has been in discussion with The Nature Conservancy, Old Dominion University, and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science to discuss the best way to develop a project that documents coastal resiliency. We agree that reef balls would be an ideal structure to protect the shoreline while also creating three dimensional habitat for oysters and other Bay species to utilize.
We propose to install two 100’ long berms each constructed using 50 reef balls each that will be seeded with an existing population of live oysters in our tanks at VIMS prior to deployment. The reef balls were all constructed and funded by members of the York River & Small Coastal Basins Roundtable.”
YRSCB members taking part in the 2016 reef ball building were:
Jim Tate, HCSWCD
Karen Reay, York Roundtable webmaster
Page Hutchinson, VDOF
Pattie Bland, HCSWCD
Anna Reh-Gingerich, DEQ-PRO
Kaitlin Ranger, DEQ-PRO
Rebecca Shoemaker, DEQ-NRO
Michael Steen, Watermens Musuem
See photos (courtesy of Pattie Bland, Karen Reay and Jim Tate) below and click on each photo to enlarge.
Living shoreline solutions around the world using a complex AR module.
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.