‘Shell to Shore’ using oyster shells protect Georgia’s coastline

People at Oysterfest shouted “we love oysters!” and " shucked!” as they pried open the delicacy.
Published: Mar. 11, 2023 at 5:43 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - In any given month with an “r” you can find thousands of North Georgians flocking to backyards, dinner tables, and festivals - for one of Georgia’s most famous natural delicacies.

People at Oysterfest shouted “we love oysters!” and " shucked!” as they pried open the delicacy.

But, more often than not, they’re then thrown away and forgotten. Shell to Shore, an Athens-based non-profit, is working to change that.

Hunt Revell, President of Shell to Shore, said he and another founding member of the organization “were working at an Oyster Restaurant in Athens called Seabear Oyster Bar and we had sort of seen that there was a lot of shell going in the trash. We had been to the coast and seen you could use a shell to regrow oysters, so we just kind of married those two things.”

And so, Shell to Shore was born. A horde of volunteers spends their free time collecting remnants of these tasty mollusks.

Volunteers roamed tables flooded with oysters. “Y’all have any oyster shells I can take out of the way?”, asked a volunteer.

The remnants of a weekend’s worth of feasting are brought to Shell to Shore’s Athens site where they are cleaned and made ready for their return to the sea.

“It’s kind of a three-tier operation. We pick it up from restaurants and festivals, we load it on the farm in Athens. It has to cure, which means all the organic material has to die off on the shell before we take it back to the coast. Then, we haul it - two-thousand-pound batches - to Sapelo Island,” Revell said.

How many pounds, and how many shells have you collected? Tyler Leslie, Vice President of Shell to Shore, estimated that “in almost two years - April will be two years of operation - we have collected probably around 50,000 pounds of the oyster shell of which we have brought 35,0000 approximately to the coast of Georgia.”

Returning shells back to one of the most vulnerable coastlines in America can boost active oyster beds, provide a natural barrier to water level rise and help reclaim land already lost to the sea.

Revell loves the Georgia coast and said, “Sapelo is a place that, historically, has not got a lot of attention. It’s wild and natural in a cool way and we’re trying to protect some of the heritage farming that they’re doing there with our shell while also working with UGA and DNR and what they collect.”

As they say the ‘world is your oyster’. Seize the opportunity and enjoy the edible treasure that our coastline has to offer.

Along the way, give a little back.