Georgia Impact

UGA’s living shoreline project on Tybee needs volunteers

Savannah, Ga. – Volunteers are needed to bag oyster shells for the second phase of a living shoreline being created at Horsepen Creek on Tybee Island. The living shoreline is a project of the University of Georgia Marine Extension Shellfish Research Laboratory and Georgia Sea Grant.

The oyster-bagging event will take place Feb. 21 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Burton 4-H Center on Tybee Island. Gloves and snacks will be provided. Volunteers should wear work clothes; close-toed shoes are recommended.

The living shoreline project, funded by a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Five-Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program, will include oyster shells and native plants to help restore an eroding bank. Living shorelines are an alternative to bulkheads and concrete often used to prevent erosion. While these structures might seem permanent and indestructible, they actually cause greater erosion on neighboring properties, said Thomas Bliss, director of the shellfish lab at UGA Marine Extension, a unit of the Office of Public Service and Outreach, on Skidaway Island.

“The living shoreline is still engineered just as a cement structure or bulkhead is,” Bliss said. “But it’s designed to restore the shoreline. It has the added benefit of creating a natural habitat in which new wild eastern oysters, fish and other wildlife can grow and thrive.”

The project ultimately will restore 200 square meters of shoreline. Plants that will be used on the upper edge of the living shoreline will include Spartina alterniflora and sea oxeye daisies.

In addition to restoring the shoreline, another goal of the project is to educate the public about the value of living shorelines and the environmental impacts that necessitate them.

“We’re planning to have more oyster-bagging events in the coming months as the living shoreline construction continues,” Bliss said.

The Shellfish Lab was awarded the Five-Star and Urban Waters grant in August. UGA primary partners include Marine Extension, Burton 4-H and the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, also a unit of the UGA Office of Public Service and Outreach. Other partners include the City of Tybee Island, the Chatham County-Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission, 100 Miles, Coastal Civil Engineering and the Nature Conservancy.

UGA Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant
The University of Georgia Marine Extension and Georgia Sea Grant are a state and federal partnership dedicated to conducting research, education and outreach to enhance coastal environmental, social and economic sustainability. As units of the Office of Public Service and Outreach at the University of Georgia, they help improve public resource policy, encourage far-sighted economic and fisheries decisions, anticipate vulnerabilities to change and educate citizens to be wise stewards of the coastal environment. Georgia Sea Grant is one of 33 Sea Grant programs throughout the country housed under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. For more information, see or