Ocracoke is surrounded by historic shallow water oyster reefs, but the
excellent qualities of the oysters lead to over-harvest in the last century.
Free swimming oyster larvae need to attach themselves to a substrate or
“cultch” material, such as clean oyster shell, to grow and develop. Thus, a
usual method of reef restoration is to “plant” oyster shell or small pieces
of marl rock, to jump start the process.
Ocracoke watermen will plant the first load of marl in April 2010, or when
the water reaches the correct temperature. “We are looking forward to
getting this long awaited restoration project in gear with our new shallow
draft barge” says Gene Ballance, oyster researcher and commercial fisherman.
Unlike standard barges, this particular type will be able to access the
shallow areas where the historic oyster beds are located. As part of the
Fish House project grant, the Ocracoke Foundation received $30,000 from the
Golden LEAF Foundation to institute an oyster restoration project. The funds
allowed for the purchase of a 12’X 30’ barge, motor, trailer, and some
oyster cultch materials in addition the yearly allotment provided to the
Ocracoke area by the State of North Carolina.
Project Review |
Maps, History & Oysters Article |
Oyster Habitat by the NC Coastal Federation
How Living on the Water Shaped A Culture:
An oral history project by Ocracoke High School
English and Film Students
To be on permanent display at Watermen’s Exhibit
Currently in progress (January 2010)
Completion expected end of school year 2010
Questions? Email us at