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Pender County residents helping rebuild oyster beds

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People in Pender County have been saving their oyster shells. Today, those shells were put to a good use. WWAY joined volunteers from Pender Watch, UNCW and the Division of Marine Fisheries to lay down some oyster beds in forest sound. We learned just how big an impact oysters have on the environment. Pender County residents have been recycling their oyster shells for nearly a year now. Those oyster shells were gathered up, and today, more than 800 bags full were put back into the water. Volunteers wore gloves to prevent getting cut by the shells, as their assembly line operated knee deep in the marsh water. Even though the job can get a little dirty, volunteers must make sure to monitor the reefs to make sure they are working. Oyster biologist Troy Alphin said, "We'll come out regularly every season and do counts, find out what kind of organisms are living in them, measuring the sediments around the reefs, and look at how they are able to stabilize the marsh and protect the marsh that's behind them." The oyster beds can help prevent erosion in the marsh caused by the wakes of passing boats. Pender Watch will continue to collect the recycled shells to lay down more beds in the future. The volunteers started working at about 6 a.m. in order to beat the high tides. While some of the youngster's looked a little tired by the time they were done, they said laying down the oyster beds was a lot of fun.

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