Oysters on the Menu: Wildlife Interactions with the Oyster Sun Curing Process



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Oyster reefs are a crucial part of the Galveston Bay ecosystem. Due to The Galveston Bay Foundation, in aid to recover the oyster population, collects used shells from restaurants to recycle them into new oyster reefs. Texas Parks and Wildlife requires that all recycled oyster shells must sun cure for at least six months to remove any remaining tissue and disease before they can become oyster reefs. Over a period of six weeks from 10/7/2022- 11/17/2022 , the impact of wild animal interaction was observed with motion cameras. There were four total piles with two being gated to prevent wildlife interactions and the other two remain ungated. During nighttime, hogs tended to come out in groups to feed on the oyster shells. Meanwhile, vultures preferred to feed on the oysters during the daytime in groups of up to about 10 vultures. They tend to be feeding on the oysters outside the fence more commonly than those inside the fence. Opossums tend to come out at night; though they do not commonly feed on the oysters, they do have tendency to climb over the fence to explore the oyster pile inside the fence. From this information, it is prominent that these wild animals frequently interact with oysters, which indicates wild animals being an important additional local factor to consider in the oyster sun curing process.