MOREHEAD CITY – A new design of artificial oyster reef-maker could buck the trend on where living shorelines best work.
Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Institute of Marine Sciences, or IMS, are introducing a type of reef that may withstand high-energy wave action areas typically deemed unsuitable for natural shoreline stabilization.
Living shoreline projects are built with various structural and organic materials such as plants, submerged aquatic vegetation, oyster shells and stone. They generally work best along sheltered coasts such as estuaries, bays, lagoons and coastal deltas, where wave energy is low to moderate.
This month, researchers will put to the test a series of reef platforms that are going to be installed as part of what is, to date, the longest state-permitted living shoreline project in North Carolina.
The Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site’s battered mile-long shore along the Cape Fear River will be a significant test on how well the oyster reefs hold up in a high-energy wave environment.
“One thing we have, I think, the ability to do with our new material is really get into high-energy environments and do quite well,” said Niels Lindquist, an IMS professor and researcher.