Can an oyster-shell paint help rethink artificial reefs?

Global Aquaculture Advocate
  • Jodi Helmer
  • April 2, 2018

Shellbond’s creative thinking aims to transform natural byproduct into aquaculture’s advantage. A bag of shells might be the perfect spot for oyster spat to settle but shoveling shells into burlap bags and hauling the artificial reefs into the water requires a significant amount of effort for oyster farmers.

“It’s a primitive and labor-intensive process,” said John Hayes Ph.D., oceanographer and managing partner of ShellBond.

A sustainable material made from those same oyster shells could provide a simpler solution.

Through a patented process, animal skeletal materials like oyster shells are heated, cooled, added to water and reheated until the chemical bond is broken and the shells disintegrate. The resulting white powder – called ShellBond – can be mixed with other organic ingredients to form a shell-based paint.

Rather than filling burlap bags with oyster shells, growers can brush the paint onto cages, concrete blocks, grids and other surfaces to create attractive spots for oyster spat to settle. The paint provides the same calcium carbonate-rich environment with less bulk and more options for configuration within the tanks or cages.

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