Tommy’s Restaurant joins Galveston Bay Foundation’s oyster reef restoration efforts.
In the Houston-Galveston area we love our oysters and do our part, along with other Americans, to devour roughly 2.5 billion of these delectable little mollusks annually. This oyster feasting leaves lots of oyster shells behind. No one knows this better than Tom Tollett, owner of Tommy’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar on Bay Area Blvd. in Clear Lake (www.Tommys.com). Over the past 15 months, Tom has worked with the Galveston Bay Foundation to recycle oyster shell for Galveston Bay Oyster Reef Restoration Projects.
Since March 2011, Tommy’s Restaurant has helped to recycle an estimated 40 tons of oyster shell. Currently the recycled oyster shell is being used for oyster gardening efforts around Galveston Bay. Volunteers bag the shell in mesh sacks that are then tied off at both ends. These bags are hung from piers, bulkheads, and docks around the Bay to provide appropriate settling areas for oyster larvae. Volunteer “oyster gardeners” monitor the bags and provide periodic maintenance until the young oysters reach appropriate size (approx. one-inch), then they are placed on restoration sites around Galveston Bay. These gardened oysters provide a top coating of healthy, young oysters on the reefs.
Several shell bagging events have taken place in the past few months including a GBF Volunteer Wildlife workday and two field trips for College of the Mainland biology students. On June 2, approx. 120 oyster bags were taken to two project sites on Galveston Island. One is a project with residents of Jamaica Beach, where the bags are hung from boat docks to attract oyster spat. These oysters will be used to restore a small shell ridge adjacent to Jamaica Beach (to the east). The other project site is at the Pelican Rest Marina on Galveston Island, where these gardening bags will be used to help expand the oyster reefs near the marina.
Another 30-35 bags were taken to a volunteer pier in Kemah late in June to continue restoration efforts with a small restoration reefs there as well.