Oyster reef rebuilding operation in Galveston Bay

Time to go check on the progress... Raz Halili cranks up the engines while his cousin Zim casts off from the dock. It's just a quick boat ride to the reef rebuilding operation, an underwater construction project.

"What we are going to do is set out this limestone and it's going to provide substrate for a new generation of oysters," says Raz.

The Prestige Oysters company is laying out about $1 million to lay down 10,000 tons of crushed Kentucky limestone.  The crane dumps them on the boats, which carefully spread them out to provide more habitat, hopefully.

If you examine a harvested oyster, you can see where it's a different shape at one end. That's where it was attached to one of those pieces of limestone. Here's the funny thing about these oysters. They only like Kentucky limestone. They tried to use limestone from Mexico because it was cheaper, but the oysters didn't like it.

This is part of the company's sustainability project. It is not the first time they've done this, but there's a bit more urgency now -- thanks to Harvey. Oysters need what's called brackish water. That is a mix of salt and fresh. The Harvey flood waters draining into the bay changed that mix, killing half the oysters. That's a problem even if you don't like them.

"Oysters are a keystone species. They not only filter the water. They're also providing life for new generations of sea critters," he says.

Healthy oysters mean a healthy bay. This is not the first time in recent years the oysters here have taken a beating. In less than a decade there have been several floods and a drought -- all of which seriously threatened their survival. But the oysters and the people who rely on them for a living keep bouncing back.

"It's tough, but like oysters we are resilient and we keep fighting," he says as they head back to shore.

Fighting and hoping Mother Nature gives them a break.

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