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Got shells? State park looking for oyster shell donations to build living reef

(Photo: Hammocks Beach State Park)
(Photo: Hammocks Beach State Park)

An eastern North Carolina state park is asking people to donate the leftovers from their oyster roasts to help the environment.

Hammocks Beach State Park in Swansboro will use the recycled oyster shells to build a reef early next year in the waters of Queens Creek.

Officials say the recycled shells are placed in aquaculture bags, stacked in place, and larval oysters settle out of the plankton onto the old shell to cement it together into a living shoreline.

Volunteers built a similar shoreline last summer that is already growing new oysters, and officials say each adult oyster can filter as much as 50 gallons of water per day.