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FSSR Newsletter - July 2006

WHERE HAVE ALL THE OYSTERS GONE?

    Oysters used to be plentiful in the St. Sebastian River and the Indian River Lagoon.  Have you ever heard of middens?  These are huge mounds of refuse left behind by native Americans who lived here before the Spanish arrived.  The mounds were mostly made up of oyster shells - apparently a favorite food of the locals at the time.  Many of the mounds are gone now, having been "mined" for the shell for use in road building.
    The St. Sebastian River also had lots of oysters, even in the recent past, some of which were huge, by most of our Epicurean standards.  Today though most of what is found in the river are the remnants of oysters - just shells, but few live oysters.  Many areas have lost their oyster populations and there is ongoing research on habitats where oysters were historically present, to learn the reason for their decline.
    One of the most famous areas where oyster research is being conducted is the Chesapeake Bay, where they have learned how important oysters are to the quality of the environment, as they are heavy filter feeders and can have a significant impact on water quality.
    Research is also ongoing in Florida by the DEP's Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.  Dr. Bill Arnold who heads up their oyster research will be our guest this month.  We have been working with Dr. Arnold in a survey of the presence of live oysters in the St. Sebastian River.  Dr. Arnold will share with us some of the findings so far, and the early stages of their research to determine baseline data and mapping of the oyster beds.  You can find out more about the Research Institute on their website at www.floridamarine.org.
    We will also be joined by Gayle Hoffman of The Nature Conservancy.  They are working on a project for oyster seeding to restore oysters to their historical habitats in and around the Indian River Lagoon.  She will be telling us about their program and demonstrating the "mats" they are constructing to provide anchoring for juvenile oysters to establish themselves on.
    Our meeting will be Tuesday, July 25, 7:30 PM at the North Indian River County Library.  All are welcome and refreshments will be served following the presentations.

JULY IS NATIONAL RECREATION AND PARKS MONTH

    "Since 1985, the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) has designated the month of July as Recreation and Parks Month in July.  Recreation facilities and parks across the country annually use July to celebrate the kick off of summer programming as well as a time to pull their communities together to volunteer, get involved in great outdoor physical activities and advocate for parks and recreation."
    The state of Florida is also celebrating National Recreation and Parks Month.  For more information on Florida parks and activities, please visit their website at www.floridastateparks.org.