Tuesday, April 7, 2020

South Beach Renourishment Roars On

Photos by Scott H. Shook | The shaker machine separates the shells from the sand.

Heavy Equipment Operator Ryan Lantz with some big shells that he has collected from the dredging operation. He said that Marco Island has a lot more shells than other beaches they’ve dredged. At any given time, there are several mounds of shells like the one behind Lantz on South Beach.

The Beach Renourishment Project on South Beach roars ahead on its 24-hour a day schedule. 

“We’re killing two birds with one stone,” said Ryan Lantz, Heavy Equipment Operator, in describing the project. “We’re renourishing the beach while at the same time we’re dredging Caxambas Pass. 

A suction dredge in the pass feeds the sand and shell through a large pipe that deposits the aggregate onto the beach. There a shaker machine separates the shell from the sand. 

“The shaker separates the desirable from the undesirable,” stated Lantz, “1,000 feet of pipe connect it to Caxambas Pass where our suction dredge is stirring it up and sucking it up.” 

Lantz and the rest of the crew have been surprised at the amount of shells they’ve been dredging up. They all have a collection of shells they’ve found while working. 

“Locals have helped us identify some of the shells we’ve found,” he said with a smile. “We all have our little collections. 

“We sift it out here and put the shells off to the side, scoop it up and ship it out—down to Tigertail for right nowWe have more shells than we anticipated. The county is trying to figure out what to do will all the shells. They will put it back out into the community. Local trails, stuff like that.” 

There figures to be a gold mine of collectible shells in the giant shell mounds. Shell collectors will never get near them, however. As Ryan Lantz explained, “The county doesn’t want anybody near the shell piles.” 


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