MELBOURNE, Florida — An environmental hero is among the employees at the Brevard Zoo. Jody Palmer, oyster restoration community outreach coordinator, was recognized by national outdoors magazine, Field and Stream, as one of March’s heroes of conservation for her efforts in an ongoing collaborative oyster reef restoration project in the Indian River Lagoon, the most biologically diverse estuary in the continental United States.
The oyster reef restoration project was started in 2005 by Linda Walters of the University of Central Florida (UCF) . Palmer brought the project to the attention of Brevard Zoo, and they partnered with UCF and the Nature Conservancy in an effort to allow species to flourish in the Indian River Lagoon.
The project consists of preparing, building and deploying oyster – shell mats, constructed from mesh and oyster shells. This project has brought together more than 30,000 volunteers who have made more than 36,000 mats to restore 58 reefs in Mosquito Lagoon, according to Palmer.
Oysters are filter feeders that improve water quality and clarity by filtering water – one oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day. They also are a food source and provide habitat for many species of wildlife.
Recognition as one of March’s heroes of conservation puts Palmer in the running to be the conservation hero of the year and has earned the conservation department $500 to put toward operations.
The next oyster restoration event will take place on May 15 at the Barrier Island Sanctuary. Please note, mat making workshops are free and open to the public. Workshops do not include Zoo admission if the event is held at Brevard Zoo.
If you are interested in booking a private event for your class or group, or for more information about this project, please contact Jody Palmer at Jpalmer@brevardzoo.org or call 321.254.9453 ext. 265.
PHOTO CREDIT: Brevard Zoo