TEXAS SURF CONSERVANCY
formerly Texas Surf Museum
formerly Texas Surf Museum
Texas Surf Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that collaborates across disciplines and industries to solve shared problems that jeopardize the environmental health of marine habitats in the Coastal Bend.
The Conservancy raises money through grant awards, private donations, and sponsorships from community events.
In the fall of 2022 Texas Surf Museum shut its doors as a cultural arts space and transitioned into a new nonprofit organization, Texas Surf Conservancy, focused on marine conservation. Our transition is bittersweet. While we will miss seeing everyone in the gallery, we are grateful to be able to respond to relevant and timely issues that threaten Texas’ beaches and coastal habitats. Our long history of working with Harte Research Institute (HRI) at TAMU-CC, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Texas General Land Office (GLO), and many other science and conservation groups, provides a solid foundation for the Conservancy to begin this new and exciting chapter of its existence.
Under supervision of the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Texas Surf Conservancy proudly operates the Institute's Sink Your Shucks™ oyster shell recycling program. Sink Your Shucks™ reclaims shucked oyster shells from local restaurants, so they can be returned to local bays through HRI's greater oyster reef restoration efforts.The shell collected through Sink Your Shucks™ provides both substrate to form new reefs and habitat for fish, crabs, and other organisms.
The program was started in 2009 as a collaboration between HRI and Brad Lomax, founder of Water Street Seafood Market and the Texas Surf Museum (TSM), and has been funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Texas General Land Office (GLO) for the past 13 years.
Multiple times a week, Conservancy staff collect shucked shells from restaurants and deposit them at a quarantine and collection site that is located on land generously donated by the Port of Corpus Christi, which has been a longtime sponsor of the program. After the shells are quarantined, HRI places the shell at predetermined wild oyster reef restoration sites. HRI researchers actively study the effectiveness and longevity of these restoration projects.
Sink Your Shucks™ was the first oyster shell recycling program in Texas. To date, the initiative has reclaimed almost 2 million pounds of shucked oyster shells, which has led to the restoration of almost 25 acres of oyster reef habitat throughout the Mission-Aransas Estuary.
Oysters are an important ecological and economic resource, but oyster reefs, once dominant habitats in estuaries worldwide, have experienced greater losses than any other marine habitat. It is estimated that up to 90% of oyster reef habitats have been lost, compared to historic abundance. The dredging method used by wild oyster harvesters removes oysters as well as their shells, the critical building blocks of the reef. Dredged shell is rarely returned to the bay. Instead, this important resource often ends up in the landfill as trash. Sink Your Shucks™ works to solve this problem, recycling shucked oyster shells from restaurants and putting them back into local bays where they are needed most, to restore and enhance degraded reefs.
Texas Surf Conservancy actively fundraises for the Sink Your Shucks™ program and recruits more restaurants to participate. If you are interested in supporting the program, please email the Conservancy's Executive Director, Peyton Gardner, at email@example.com.
Sink Your Shucks is generously supported by the Coastal Conservation Association, Texas General Land Office, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Learn more about Sink Your Shucks and other local oyster conservation efforts from HRI.
On Saturday April 22, 2023, to celebrate the close of Texas’ wild oyster harvest season, Texas Surf Conservancy and Water Street Oyster Bar will host the inaugural Texas Oyster Roundup – a multidisciplinary oyster-centered event that will bring together scientists, conservation groups, businesses, and other relevant organizations in an exposition-like manner throughout Water Street Market in downtown Corpus Christi. Participating groups will engage the public, and each other, with educational booths and other activities to share current research and conservation efforts, all while eating delicious seafood.
In conjunction with educational booths from nonprofits, there will be speakers and panel discussions with local scientists and other professionals about marine conservation and local environmental issues. The Roundup will also offer the public several presentations and educational workshops that celebrate and promote South Texas culture, particularly fishing and seafood.
The event will create an annual moment of connection and collaboration for regional conservation and research organizations. Texas Oyster Roundup will also create an opportunity for the public to explore new perspectives on local environmental issues, and develop a deeper understanding of how seemingly divergent sectors within the Coastal Bend are intrinsically tied to one another through our shared dependence on the natural landscape of the coast. This celebratory, and free, festival is embedded in the natural landscape of the Coastal Bend, and is deeply engaged with present-day communities in South Texas.
All the proceeds from the Oyster Roundup will directly support the Sink Your Shucks oyster shell recycling program and the Conservancy. At the end of the festival, TSC and HRI will add up the weight of all the shucked shells generated by the event, and will publicly announce the total to encourage a sense of collective achievement.
STAY TUNED FOR MORE INFO!
Event graphic by Jon Steele
In partnership with Texas Oyster Ranch, the Conservancy is a proud participant in the National Phytoplankton Monitoring Network (PMN), a program run by NOAA and made up of a community-based network of volunteers who monitor marine phytoplankton and harmful algal blooms (HABs). PMN recognizes the interrelationships between humans and coastal ecosystems while providing volunteer citizen scientists with meaningful opportunities for hands-on science engagement. The PMN enhances the Nation’s ability to respond to and manage the growing threat posed by HABs, like Red Tide, by collecting important data for species composition and distribution in coastal waters and creating working relationships between volunteers and professional marine biotoxin researchers.
Twice a month, Conservancy staff collects water samples from the Ranch’s oyster farm on Copano Bay to look for HABs, using a state-of-the-art microscope donated by NOAA. The Conservancy and the Ranch provide NOAA with valuable data to help track how the burgeoning oyster mariculture industry in Texas interacts with the microbiome of the state’s bays and estuaries.
Since 2001 PMN volunteers have discovered over 500 blooms throughout the coastal United States and have generated over 480,000 observations of environmental conditions. Volunteer data is directly incorporated into the state HAB monitoring plains of Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. HAB managers of other states are notified of potential blooms by PMN staff directly.
Harmful algal blooms impact the coastal economy on average $82 million a year. Because every coastal state suffers HABs the problem is too much for any one agency. The National Phytoplankton Monitoring Network collects ecological data at low taxpayer expense in 36 states and territories. This is a true “citizen science” program that combines expertise from NOAA, state and federal agencies, and industry with the energy of volunteers from schools, universities and civic groups.
Charitable contributions of any size are greatly appreciated, and 100% tax-deductible. Your gift will support healthy beaches and marine habitats in the Coastal Bend.
For more information about donations and in-kind giving, contact Peyton Gardner. (firstname.lastname@example.org)