Save Our Bay Program

Save Our Bay Program Oldsmar Citizen Science
  1. Ben Cegelski

    Sustainability Coordinator

  2. Ashlee Painter

    Environmental Management Supervisor

One of the biggest draws to Oldsmar is the bay and our parks. Residents are drawn to the natural beauty and recreational activities that the coast has to offer. We want to ensure that these spaces and the bay remain healthy for future generations.

Every year the Tampa Bay Estuary Program creates a State of the Bay report  with water quality data collected throughout the year (read report here). Since the construction of the causeways across Old Tampa Bay, the water quality in this section has been impacted by the reduced flow and increased population in the area. 

While the city is working with regional and state partners to address some of the bigger projects affecting bay health, we want to do everything we can locally to keep our bay waters healthy. The Save the Bay Program is a way for all residents to get involved in helping to keep our bay clean. The program started in 2021 with Vertical Oyster Gardens and will continue to add new projects annually. All projects will be ongoing, so click on the project tabs to see how you can help Save Our Bay!

VOG pictureDo you want to help Save Our Bay? In a recent water quality report on Old Tampa Bay, which lines the Oldsmar and SafetyHarbor coasts, water was found to be the least healthy in the entire bay. There are many ways to help clean our waters. Our first project to tackle this important issue, Vertical Oyster Gardens or VOGS, launched on December 11, 2021. Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?

While oysters are good to eat, one oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day. Imagine the filtering power of hundreds or thousands of oysters!

Former Oldsmar Mayor Eric Seidel partnered with Safety Harbor Mayor Joe Ayoub to encourage residents to hang VOGs on their docks. These VOGs will help recruit oysters to our bay and get us one step closer to cleaner, healthier waters. Even if you do not have a dock, you can still volunteer to help make and monitor the gardens.

This will be an ongoing project, so keep an eye out for future events! If you want more information or to install VOGs on your dock, email the Sustainability Coordinator.

Have you already installed VOGS on your dock?

Please fill out a quick questionnaire Here

Special Thank You to our partners

Safety Harbor CitySealTampa Bay Watch Logo

Salt Rock Tavern Logo

Steps to hang VOGs

  1. Choose a place for VOG. Choose a spot with the most water flow and is deep enough to cover VOG at high tide.
  2. Using a length of rope hang VOG from dock. Try to match the height/depth of the best oyster/barnacle growth on your pilings or seawall. This is the optimal zone for your area.
  3. Be patient. It may take several months for oysters to colonize your VOG. Try moving VOG higher or lower in the water column if you think they are hanging at the wrong depth. Always try to match the growth on adjacent areas.

Hanging VOGs from the pier at R.E. Olds Park

We have oysters!

BarnacleOyster SpatWe hosted our first VOG monitoring event on August 6, 2022. While VOGs were mostly covered with barnacles, we did find oyster spat (aka baby oysters) on about half of them. This was expected, as barnacles recruit earlier in the year than oysters. Oysters spawn in the summer months, so we were seeing the first spawn of the season.

When oysters are this size, they can be hard to spot amongst all the barnacles. The monitoring team had their work cut out for them! Check out the picture below to see how many oyster spat you can see.


Now look at the picture below to see if you got them all (oyster spat circled in yellow).

Oyster spat circled in yellow

If you want to help monitor the VOGs on the R.E. Olds pier, contact the Sustainability Coordinator for more information.

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