Oyster shells needn't go to waste. A Louisiana-based group has started a project to put oyster shells back into the ocean after they are discarded at restaurants in New Orleans. Why? Because once the shells are placed back on the seafloor they help new oyster communities form and regenerate, according to the group organizing the project, the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana. The project is funded by a $1 million gift from Shell Oil Company, according to the coalition.
Oyster shells have been used elsewhere for the same purpose, for example in the Chesapeake Bay. "Oyster shell is a naturally created and valuable material that should be returned to the coast, where it can serve as a foundation for reefs and as cultch [or fodder] for more oysters," said the group's executive director, Steven Peyronnin, in a post from the coalition. Oyster larvae preferentially latch onto other oyster shells and begin growing, the group added.