Shell Point

Lng: -82.007988 Lat: 26.522564Back to site data


Shell Point is where the Caloosahatchee meets San Carlos Bay. It was once home to large oyster reefs, spanning the width of the Caloosahatchee. It is estimated that 90% of the oyster reefs were destroyed by road construction and the combined effect of droughts and floods. Oysters are tolerant of large swings in salinity but cannot survive under extended periods that are either too fresh or too saline. 

Salinity in the estuary has always fluctuated by season, precipitation and tides. However, unnatural, extended releases of freshwater from Lake Okeechobee or too little freshwater during the dry season severely degraded most of the oyster reefs. 

Deborah and John La Gorce generously supported equipment and installation of RECON at Shell Point.

Additional Description

Oyster Bed Restoration
Restored Oyster Beds

Oyster reef habitats were once quite common along Florida’s southwestern coast based on excavations of shell mounds or ‘middens’oyster reef and historical records dating back to the 1800s. Shallow subtidal and intertidal oyster reefs were once dominant components of the Caloosahatchee estuary, and remnant populations can still be found in the River as well as in Pine Island Sound and in and around Sanibel and Captiva Islands. Oyster reefs create complex three-dimensional, reef structure attracting numerous invertebrates and finfish. These "ecosystem engineers" support numerous documented species by FGCU researchers (Volety and Tolley,2003) such as the mud crabs such as Panopeus simpsoni and Eurypanopeus depressus, numerous filter-feeding porcelain crabs such as Petrolisthes armatus, snapping shrimp, Alpheus heterochaelis, and crown conch, Melongena corona. Reefs also harbora diverse community of resident fish such as Florida blenny, Chasmodes saburrae, skilletfish, code goby, Gobiosoma robustum, Gobiesox strumosus, feather blenny, Hypsoblennius hentz and Gulf toadfish, Opsanus beta. Larger predators include species such as black drum, Pogonias cromis. In 2008, the SCCF Marine Laboratory and City of Sanibel Natural Resources department staff initiated a pilot study to assess potential for oyster reef restoration in Clam Bayou and Tarpon Bay. During 2008 and 2009 we will be assessing oyster recruitment, mapping existing oyster populations and adjacent seagrass (primarily Halodule) populations in Clam Bayou. Funding is currently being sought to expand these studies in association with enhanced flow associated with the addition of culverts in 2006 and the opening of Blind Pass in late 2008 or early 2009.