‘Big Idea’ winner uses artificial oyster reef to protect Gulf coastline

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NEW ORLEANS - An engineer and business owner's big idea is helping protect and restore Louisiana's Gulf coast.

"We call it the Oyster Break. They look like massive round Legos," said Tyler Ortego, founder of ORA Estuaries and winner of this year's New Orleans Entrepreneur Week's "Big Idea."

He's making a splash with an artificial oyster reef.

"They weigh between 1500 pounds to over a ton depending on which one you use. They interlock, so you get a variety of configurations and the engineering is built into the product so as soon as you build it, you have a wave-breaking structure and then the oysters take over," Ortego said.

Then, the oyster larvae can attach and grow. ORA Estuaries has already completed four projects in Louisiana and plans to help protect coastlines in other states.

Ortego has been making waves since he was a student at LSU more than ten years ago, where he came up with this big idea to reduce coastal erosion.

When it comes to protecting the wetlands, looks like the artificial reef may prove to be Ortego's pearl of wisdom.

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