HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY -- A Bay area non-profit working tirelessly to replenish nearly 80 percent of the area's oyster population has just created a man made reef to restore the habitat. 

  • Man made reef to help replenish oysters, improve water quality in Bay
  • Bay area has lost 50-80% of oyster population
  • Tampa Bay Watch created a man made reef to help

Tampa Bay Watch works to restore environmental habitats. Founder Peter Clark says the Bay area has lost 50 - 80 percent of its oyster population. 

"We used to not only eat oysters but we would dredge them up and use them for roadways and other construction projects and that was loss of critical habitat for fish and wildlife," Clark said. 

In McKay Bay, the population has suffered from developmental impacts, storm water runoff, and pollution. That loss can result in bad smells and even dead fish. 

"Oysters are a very important habitat. They will filter water, they will provide homes for animals, and food source for different animals as well," Environmental Scientist Andy Lykens said. 

Thankfully, there are ways to bring them back, by bagging tons and tons of fossilized shells and strategically placing them along certain parts of the shoreline. 

"The oyster larvae that are in the water right now will settle on top of the shell bags and use it as a foundation where they can grow up and create the reef naturally," Clark said. 

The reef will replenish oysters and improve water quality. 

The company Mosaic donated $150,000 to help make the project possible.