Stick save: Florida coach turns hockey sticks into oyster hotels

A university professor in Florida has transformed broken hockey sticks into "hotels" for oysters.
Caption
A university professor in Florida has transformed broken hockey sticks into "hotels" for oysters.

Credit: Patrick Smith

Credit: Patrick Smith

Credit an assistant college hockey coach in southwest Florida with a stick save for the environment.

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Bob Wasno, a marine biologist at Florida Gulf Coast University who helps coach the university's club hockey team, has turned broken hockey sticks into a design that becomes an oyster hotel, the News-Press of Fort Myers reported.

“Before, the sticks would go from the rink to the Dumpster and from the Dumpster to the landfills,” Wasno told the newspaper. “Now, our hockey players, who didn’t know a lick about oysters other than they’re delicious with cocktail sauce, have also have learned they’re filter feeders.”

Because oysters help purify the water, the hotels -- which are actually reef habitats -- are helping to keep the mollusk population strong. One oyster is capable of filtering 50 gallons of water in a day, the News-Press reported.

Wasno has already placed 30 of his oyster hotels in southwest Florida and as far south as the Florida Keys, the News-Press reported. Up to 400 oysters can reside in the hotels, the newspaper reported. It takes 12 sticks to make the habitat, which measures 18 inches high.

The idea came from hockey players who told Wasno they had broken sticks that were worthless, Michael Parsons, the facilities manager at the university’s Vester Marine and Environmental Science Research Field Station in Bonita Springs, told the newspaper.

“Bob was sitting with hockey players and they were lamenting broken sticks not being able to be used for anything,” Pearson said. “Bob recalled using large concrete pilings for artificial reefs. He said, ‘If we can build these large ones, maybe we can build small ones with hockey sticks.’”

Wasno has a master’s degree in environmental sciences and degrees in aquaculture and fisheries science. He is amazed that his idea has attracted national attention.

"It's snowballed," Wasno told the News-Press. "It's a natural repurposing. We've taken something that had become useless and was filling up landfills and turned it into something that helped students learn about the oysters' role in the environment.

“We’re offering Mother Nature assistance.”