Total Marine Services deployed the oyster reef balls last week along the shoreline.

WANCHESE — The North Carolina Coastal Federation worked with a local contractor to deploy 25 oyster reef balls along the shoreline at their office in the Wanchese Marine Industrial Park last week.

These oyster reef balls are made from concrete and designed with lots of surface area for baby oysters to attach to and grow on. A local contractor, Total Marine Services, deployed the oyster reef balls along 100 feet of shoreline near the federation’s office. Oyster reef balls come in various sizes, but the federation used the pallet ball size. Each weighs 1,300 pounds and is 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide.

“These reef balls help to demonstrate the variety of ways that oysters can be restored to our waters,” said Erin Fleckenstein, coastal scientist and regional manager for the federation’s Wanchese office. “The reef balls and nearby oyster shell bags will provide a surface for baby oysters to naturally attach to and develop into an oyster reef along the shoreline.”

This project is one of a number of projects being built at the federation’s offices. The staff have worked to demonstrate techniques for building oyster reefs, protecting natural shorelines and limiting stormwater runoff from entering nearby coastal waters. The reef balls are adjacent to a 100-foot sill that was constructed by volunteers out of recycled oyster shell and show two different ways oysters can be used to create habitat and protect the natural shoreline. Interested people are invited to contact the federation to learn more about these techniques and visit the office to see them as they work.

“We look forward to educating everyone about these techniques. Already we’ve been using the oyster bags along the shoreline in our summer programming,” said Sara Hallas, coastal education coordinator.

Over the next two years, the oyster reef balls will recruit oysters, helping to improve water quality in Broad Creek. These oyster reef balls will help create more habitat around the shoreline that can provide foraging and refuge areas for important fish species. The project is near the demonstration living shoreline and can be viewed from the recently completed dock at the office. The project is supported by Camp Younts Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Community-based Restoration Program.

Oyster restoration is one of the federation’s major initiatives. By 2020, the organization plans to restore 50 acres of oyster reef through its 50 Million Oyster Initiative. More information about the 50 Million Oyster Initiative is available at, where people can learn how to support the initiative through Adopt an Oyster.

Please contact Erin Fleckenstein at or 252-473-1607 with any questions.