All-star Volunteers Make Great Impact over Pandemic

Story Submitted by Rachel Arndt – Tampa Bay Watch

This year was definitely one for the history books with a global pandemic that completely changing our lives.

In mid-March of 2020, all of our scheduled volunteer projects were put on hold. Throughout the month of July, we offered do-it-yourself cleanups which was popular since everyone was ready to get outside in a safe way. In order to keep our habitat restoration projects going, our team invited a small, but mighty group of committed volunteers, also known as our all-stars, to support our slate of habitat restoration projects.

We limited each project to a maximum of twenty people including staff to create a bubble of isolation and accomplish oyster reef ball construction and installation, oyster shell bar installations, native plantings, and fishing line cleaning. We enforced safety requirements for the well-being of all participants including temperature checks, face masks, and social distancing.

A special thanks to our all-stars for working side by side with us in a safe way to fulfill our mission! Here’s all that we accomplished in 2020 with their help:

  • Shoveled 72 tons of fossilized shell to create 4,104 square feet of new reef and built 625 domes and placed 50 reef balls in Tampa Bay to improve water quality, prevent erosion, and create habitat.
  • Recovered 826 miles of fishing line and recycled 127 pounds of line from 208 monotubes at 75 locations to prevent entanglement and death of birds and marine animals.
  • Planted 6,700 plugs of native grasses to restore 9,529 square feet of habitat to improve water quality, create habitat, and prevent erosion.
  • Removed 1,449 pounds of debris from shorelines and inland areas to improve the health of the bay.
  • Tallied 133 bay scallops in upper and lower Tampa Bay to gauge the health of the bay.

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