‘Nature knows the best’: Williamsburg man, 95, honored as longest-serving oyster restoration volunteer | State and region news

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“His dedication alone has returned millions and millions of oysters to the waters of the Chesapeake Bay, both locally and in large tributaries in Virginia,” said Shannon.

Zadan is one of the first steps in the restoration process. Once people enjoy the oysters, participating restaurants keep the shells. Then, they are collected by the volunteers and brought to the recycling center.

In the center, located on the campus of the College of William & Mary, the seashells stay in the sun for about six months. This is done to clean them of any remaining lumps or bacteria.

From there, the shells are transported to one of the foundation’s sites in Virginia Beach and placed in a tank containing thousands of oyster larvae.

According to Shannon, the oyster larva attaches to the shells and eventually becomes an adult.

“We have a motto, no oyster shells left behind,” Shannon said. “Over time, every oyster shell Walter collects from restaurants essentially turns into a portable oyster reef.”

When the foundation started conserving oysters in the early 2000s, they tried many ways to cultivate them. Shannon’s predecessor Tommy Leggett said they used old tires, which worked well but risked polluting the water, and even porcelain toilets, which were less efficient.

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