A wall of oyster shells has been erected near Montegut to protect historical Native American mounds threatened by erosion and sea level rise.
The partially-submerged wall was completed this month by the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana (CRCL), Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe and more than 100 volunteers. They spent weeks hauling and placing about 200 tons of shells gathered from New Orleans-area restaurants.
The wall will act as an artificial reef, fostering the growth of oysters and other marine life while protecting a collection of mounds valued by members of the tribe.
“Our ancestors made these mounds, so we won’t just stand by while they are washed away,” Pointe-au-Chien member Donald Dardar said.
“We like that the oyster bed will be good for other fish, too, since we’re mostly commercial fishermen here,” added Theresa Dardar, Donald’s wife.
The oyster reef is the second built by CRCL in Louisiana. In 2016, the organization finished a half-mile-long reef in St. Bernard Parish using more than 4,000 tons of recycled shells.
CRCL Executive Director Kimberly Reyher said the reefs acts as “speed bumps” against storms, slowing them down before they strike coastal communities and damage fragile marshlands.
Started in 2014, CRCL’s oyster shell recycling program prevents tons of shells from being dumped into landfills. Returning shells to the Gulf of Mexico’s waters fosters the growth of more oysters. Young oysters prefer to latch onto old shells to begin their final stages of development.
Article written by Tristan Baurick and originally published in the Times Picayune