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Lots of head-scratching over future of oyster shells

“If you have any oyster shells lying around, the U.S. Army wants five dumptrucks’ worth. You don’t even have to include the delicious oysters inside. And they’re willing to pay up to $15,000 for them.

“That’s the gist of one of the stranger U.S. Army Corps of Engineers contracts in recent memory. Last week, the Army put out a call for the empty shells — specifically, shells that have been ‘shucked and air dried,’ ready for transportation. There was, intriguingly, no additional detail….

“After I tweeted the bizarre contract on Thursday, Slate’s Matthew Yglesias speculated that the Corps sought to aid an existing project to rebuild the oyster population of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay. Other guesses include the construction of good luck charms for the Navy; a crustacean-based fragmentation grenade; and, per the New York Times‘ Annie Lowrey, ‘scenic, Cape Cod-style driveways’….

“But it turns out the shells are destined for the southeastern corner of Roanoke Island, N.C. abutting Wanchese Harbor. That’s where the Army Corps of Engineers has a marsh creation and restoration project. There’s no military value to the enterprise; it’s part of the Corps’ longstanding civil works and environmental mission. To complete it, the Army needs 4,000 bushels of oyster shells.”

– From “Army Is Buying 4,000 Bushels of Empty Oyster Shells” by Spencer Ackerman  (July 25, 2012) at Wired

And let’s not forget “oyster-tecture.”