Florida Institute of Technology

Benthic organisms such as oysters, sponges, barnacles and tunicates are filter feeders, which have the potential to significantly improve local water quality and provide habitat and food for crabs and fish. The IRLRI and local community groups have been working together to create Living Docks, which promote the growth of filter feeders at private and public locations along the Indian River Lagoon. This is done by attaching oyster wraps and bags to docks. This method is cheap, simple, and requires minor long-term maintenance. After one year of immersion, previous Living Docks had healthy populations of barnacles, sponges, algae, bryozoans, and tunicates. Live oysters were also found in abundance. With the filtration rates for oysters being 50 gallons per day per oyster (Crasstrostrica virginica) a community with healthy Living Docks can potentially filter 57000 gallons of water per day or about 21 million gallons (approx.. 80,000 cubic meters) per year per dock (of 37 pilings with an average of 32 oysters per piling). This volume of water is the equivalent to the volume of water needed to fill 420,000 bathtubs!

 

IRLRI members and a local Girl Scout Troup deploy a Living Dock