Oyster recycling, reef building gives back to environment in Horry, Georgetown counties

Netted oyster shells, packed into 400 bundles of two-third bushels, are backed into the Murrells Inlet Boat Landing on a breezy July afternoon.

The water temperature is just right — balanced between 69 and 71 degrees — to bring the shells to a visible, yet remote area of the inlet to set up an oyster reef.

“We like this site because it’s visible,” said Jared Hulteen, wildlife biologist with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. Hulteen was recently behind several restaurants with deck views of the inlet, flanked by a little more than a dozen volunteers, freshly coated in bug spray, donning gloves and filled with a spirit to do their part for the ecosystem.

Each year, DNR organizes oyster reef building efforts through SCORE, the South Carolina Oyster Restoration and Enhancement Program.