Saving NC oyster reefs: graduate students, faculty show how

How can North Carolina’s decimated oyster reefs be properly restored? A short film (shown below) by UNC graduate students shows what they and faculty members at the Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS) are doing to solve the problem.

Featuring oyster-level views, research explanations and beautiful scenery, the film was recently shown at a Beneath the Waves Film Festival event at Coastal Carolina University.

The work of graduate students Michelle Brodeur, Rachel Gittman, Ian Kroll, Joe Morton and Justin Ridge is highlighted, along with interviews with UNC marine sciences faculty members.

Oyster reefs are extremely valuable, ecologically and economically as natural capital for the ecosystem services they provide. Although critically important to the estuaries and sounds of North Carolina, the reefs have decreased in the past century by 85 percent, from destructive fishing practices, disease, hypoxia, turbidity and eutrophication. Restoring oyster reefs in optimal habitat settings and locations within intertidal areas will be more effective and waste fewer resources, according to the UNC researchers.

The film was produced as part of the Scientists with Stories Project, which was created by students from IMS, the Duke University Marine Lab and other UNC students and funded through support by a Kenan-Biddle grant.

Through research, teaching and public service, graduate education at Carolina generates knowledge and innovative solutions that address critical needs. Graduate students and alumni improve lives through their leadership, professional expertise and civic engagement in North Carolina and beyond.

Published September 23, 2013.