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Team MacDill constructs new oyster reef habitat

Senior Airman Christine Carragher, assigned to the 6th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, passes a bag of shells to Senior Airman Willie Mcelroy, assigned to the 6th AMDS, during an oyster reef building at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Dec. 11, 2015. Carragher and Mcelroy helped gather, bag, transport and use 14 tons of shells to build an oyster reef along the shoreline. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Vernon L. Fowler Jr./Released)

Senior Airman Christine Colon, assigned to the 6th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, passes a bag of shells to Senior Airman Willie Mcelroy, assigned to the 6th AMDS, during an oyster reef building at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Dec. 11, 2015. Colon and Mcelroy helped gather, bag, transport and use 14 tons of shells to build an oyster reef along the shoreline. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Vernon L. Fowler Jr./Released)

Eight hundred bags of shells sit in a pile at the Marina on MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Dec. 11, 2015. Volunteers gathered, bagged, transported and installed 14 tons of shells to build an oyster reef habitat along the shoreline. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Vernon L. Fowler Jr./Released)

Eight hundred bags of shells sit in a pile at the Marina on MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Dec. 11, 2015. Volunteers gathered, bagged, transported and installed 14 tons of shells to build an oyster reef habitat along the shoreline. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Vernon L. Fowler Jr./Released)

Volunteers form an assembly line and pass bags of shells to be loaded onto a truck at the base Marina on MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Dec. 11, 2015. Fourteen tons of shells were gathered, bagged, transported and installed to build an oyster reef along the shoreline. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Vernon L. Fowler Jr./Released)

Volunteers form an assembly line and pass bags of shells to be loaded onto a truck at the base Marina on MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Dec. 11, 2015. Fourteen tons of shells were gathered, bagged, transported and installed to build an oyster reef along the shoreline. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Vernon L. Fowler Jr./Released)

Bags of shells lay along the shoreline at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Dec. 11, 2015. Fourteen tons of shells were gathered, bagged, transported and used to build an oyster reef. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Vernon L. Fowler Jr./Released)

Bags of shells lay along the shoreline at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., Dec. 11, 2015. Fourteen tons of shells were gathered, bagged, transported and used to build an oyster reef. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Vernon L. Fowler Jr./Released)

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Members of Team MacDill and the local community gathered at the base Marina to participate in an oyster reef building on MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, Dec. 10-11, 2015.

On day one the volunteers worked through mud, sand and heat to gather 14 tons of fossilized shells. The shells were then placed in approximately 800 constructed shell bags and piled together to be installed along the shoreline the following day.

"We are building oyster reef to create 'Living Shoreline', or in other words, a natural system of shoreline stabilization," said Jason Kirkpatrick, a contractor assigned to the 6th Civil Engineer Squadron. "Building the oyster reef helps reduce incoming wave energy and allows sediment to build up behind the reef."

On day two the volunteers loaded the 800 bags of shells onto trucks to be transported to the shoreline. An assembly line was formed to ease the workload and create a quick and efficient way to place each bag along the shoreline.

As a result, 810 sq. ft. of new oyster reef habitat was constructed.

At the second day's conclusion, volunteers could leave knowing that they had played a part in improving MacDill AFB, as well as the environment.

"This was a good opportunity to get away from the desk and help improve the base and the environment," said Senior Airman Willie Mcelroy who is assigned to the 6th Aerospace Medicine Squadron.