Tierra Verde, FL – Tampa Bay Watch recently received a generous grant of $25,000 from The Coca-Cola Foundation to support Tampa Bay Watch’s Community Oyster Reef Enhancement (CORE) project at McKay Bay.
“Tampa Bay Watch is honored to receive this generous support from The Coca-Cola Foundation,” says Peter Clark, Tampa Bay Watch President, “Especially for such an important, high-impact project.”
The goal of the project at McKay Bay is to establish a community-based oyster creation project that will construct approximately 2,900 linear feet of new oyster shell communities on the northern shoreline of McKay Bay. McKay Bay is an ecologically important estuary located in the heart of a heavily industrialized area in the City of Tampa that has suffered from many years of impacts from dredge and fill construction, urban and industrial runoff and dredged material disposal.
Through the creation of 2,900 linear feet of new oyster communities on the northern shoreline of McKay Bay, many new ecological benefits will occur. These benefits include improved water quality that will lead to the reintroduction of seagrasses in McKay Bay, increased water filtration capacity which will directly benefit the McKay Bay estuary and the new oyster reefs will provide habitat, foraging areas and sanctuary for various species of fish and wildlife that frequent coastal and estuarine shorelines. The CORE project at McKay Bay will have a measurable, positive impact on the health of McKay Bay and, ultimately, the Tampa Bay estuary.
“For us, water stewardship begins at home in our own facilities, where process improvements and technologies have allowed us to save more than three billion gallons of water since 2005,” said Jeff Ortmeier, Vice President of Sales, Central Florida Market Unit, Coca-Cola Refreshments. “Tampa Bay Watch is also committed to water stewardship. Their McKay Bay project joins more than 100 water stewardship initiatives that we support in North America.”
Community-based oyster projects are a cornerstone of Tampa Bay Watch’s restoration programs. These projects encourage oyster growth through the construction and installation of oyster domes and oyster shell bars. Oyster shell reefs prevent erosion of bay islands and fragile coastlines and improve water quality through the natural biological filtration of living oysters. Natural water filters, oysters are also a food source for other bay inhabitants. Increasing oyster populations means a reduction in erosion and better overall water quality while restoring vital hard-bottom habitats in the Bay.
Tampa Bay Watch is a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) stewardship program dedicated exclusively to the charitable and scientific purpose of protecting and restoring the marine and wetland environments of the Tampa Bay estuary encompassing over 400 square miles of open water and 2,300 square miles of highly- developed watershed. Tampa Bay Watch involves more than 10,000 youth and adult volunteers each year in hands on habitat restoration projects. For more information, visit www.tampabaywatch.org, or call 727-867-8166.