Q&A with Oyster Boys Conservation Founders Dom and Vince Marino

The Giving Coast

Picture: Dom (left) and brother Vince, co-founders of Oyster Boys Conservation.

When suncoast natives, Dom and Vince Marino, learned about the high rate of manatee death in Florida waters, they decided to take action. Early this year, the brothers began Oyster Boys Conservation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to cleaning local waters with a little help from some oysters. Vertical oyster gardens (VOGs), the Marinos discovered, were one of the fastest and most effective ways to have a positive impact on their environment.

How do VOGs help with conservation efforts?

Vertical oyster gardening is like building affordable housing for those in need. Baby oyster larvae float through the water column looking for somewhere to land and call home. Residential seawalls and inshore dredging have reduced the amount of possible housing opportunities for these Oyster Spats to land and grow. Adult oysters can filter 50 gallons of polluted saltwater each day. 1,101 manatees died in 2021. Most of them from starvation. Seagrass growth is impaired because of harmful nutrient density and sediments in the water column, oftentimes reducing the amount of sunlight able to reach the seagrass causing it to die. Oysters are continually filtering both sediments and runoff nutrients like nitrogen out of the water column. VOGs also create micro habitats for smaller shrimps, fishes and crustaceans positively impacting the food web.

What makes you different from other conservation groups?

Our main purpose is to restore the oyster population within our Florida waterways. Our means of accomplishing that is through awareness, education and volunteer recruitment. Participants and supporters gain access to our web3 digital community CLUB MANNY. We use NFT digital collectibles as our membership passes, earning members opportunities to free raffles and invitations to private events and education. NFT collectors have sent $37B to marketplaces in 2022 so far. Utilizing blockchain technology and social currency with NFTs has allowed us to fundraise and educate at a global scale. The second piece of our authentic approach to protecting Florida will be to bring to life our concept of "Restoration Stations". We currently have our sights set on two preserved waterfront properties here in Florida that we plan to practice both regenerative oyster gardening on our shorelines as well as sustainable farming techniques like permaculture on land while remaining open to the public for agritourism advancements. Imagine an old Florida approach to a scientific and educational Disneyworld. The Florida Department of Agriculture's "Fresh From Florida" program has been instrumental in guiding and helping us develop this plan to emphasize the importance of responsibly caring for our homeland.

How can people help?

Visit our website and sign up for our newsletter. We will constantly be seeking people willing to volunteer their dock for VOG installation as well as drillers ready to drill some oyster shells. Monetary donations are encouraged so that we can prepare this defense system as more and more people move to Florida each day.

Picture: Dom (left) and brother Vince, co-founders of Oyster Boys Conservation.

To learn more click here.

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