Friday, September 15, 2023

Apalachicola Bay System Initiative: Pathway to Recovery Newsletter September 2023

Pathway to Recovery

Spat on oyster shell from one of ABSI's restoration experiments.

The Apalachicola Bay System Initiative

Newsletter - September 2023

The ABSI mission: to gain insight into the root causes of decline of the Apalachicola Bay ecosystem with a focus on oyster reefs, and ultimately, with guidance from the Community Advisory Board and input from stakeholders and the public, to develop science-informed restoration and ecosystem-based management plans focused on the recovery of oyster reefs and the health of Apalachicola Bay.

ABSI Research and Restoration Experiments

Throughout the spring and summer season, the ABSI Research and Restoration Hatchery team has been monitoring an experiment using mixtures of oyster shell, limestone, and live adult oysters. The purposes of this experiment are to determine if (1) the presence of live oysters increases recruitment on these substrates and (2) how recruitment differs between shell and limestone. Oyster larvae seek out cues from adult oysters in order to settle, so the addition of live adult animals may boost recruitment numbers on newly deployed materials. Additionally, even though oyster shell and limestone are made of the same compound, calcium carbonate, they may differ in their recruitment dynamics for oyster spat.

So far, we have noticed successful oyster settlement in all substrates—limestone, oyster shell, and mixed treatments—throughout the summer. Some sets have been exceedingly dense, and at least the short-term survival of the spat seems to be high. We have also noted a variety of other critters that inhabit natural oyster reef communities including nudibranchs (types of sea slugs), crabs, fish, and shrimp present in our restoration materials. This experiment will conclude this October, at what is believed to be the end of the natural oyster spawning season. 

Examples of recruitment on both shell and limestone materials.

Hatchery technicians Landen Millender and Hayden Mock processing materials and counting spat.

nudibranch the ABSI team found in their treatments.

Community Advisory Board (CAB)

The CAB is exploring ways for a new group to stay connected to the project after this year and help implement elements of its Restoration and Management Plan Framework expected to be finalized in November 2023. The CAB met on August 9th at the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve (ANERR). The meeting began with a CAB work plan presentation from the facilitator, Jeff Blair. It was then followed by an ABSI Science Update from Dr. Sandra Brooke that highlighted the recent oyster reef restoration experiments and preliminary findings.

Next, members received a video update on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) Restoration project from Devin Resko (FWC). After the presentations concluded, the rest of the meeting was spent finalizing ranking the Restoration and Management Plan Framework Strategies and Actions. The final document will be distributed and available for public consumption following the final meeting of the CAB on November 30th.

A few hours after the CAB meeting concluded, ABSI hosted a Community Workshop. Thank you to everyone who came out and interacted with our ABSI scientists and staff, members of FWC, and Community Advisory Board members. We will be hosting another workshop on October 24th from 6:00 - 8:00 pm at ANERR (details below).


ABSI strives to be transparent and to make the project's information and communications easily accessible and understandable. Please let us know how we can improve our communications, or if you have any suggestions on how to best reach members within our local community. Email Outreach Coordinator Maddie Mahood at

Visit the ABSI Community Advisory Board website for a history of CAB meetings since March 2020, including copies of all presentations and meeting recordings.

Members of the community chat with FSU Ph.D. student Barry Walton about oyster restoration experiment sites.

Members of the community talk with ABSI Principal Investigator Dr. Sandra Brooke.

CAB MeetingSeptember 27th, 8:30am - 2:30pm -- ANERR Multi-Purpose Room

This meeting will be held in person at the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve (ANERR) facility in Eastpoint. A public Zoom option is available below. There is room for public comment at the beginning and end of each meeting.

Meeting Agenda

Community Workshop: October 24th, 6:00pm - 8:00pm -- ANERR Multi-Purpose Room

Meeting Agenda

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