There were many docks reaching into the harbor from the waterfront in the early days of Punta Gorda. One of these, was the oyster dock, which was located between where the two bridges descend into Punta Gorda today (about where the Tikibar is).
R.B. Smith, a dealer in oysters. clams, and fish roe was located on this wharf. Oysters, in addition to being an important food source and product, were also used as road paving material. Marion Avenue, in the 1890s, was surfaced with oyster shells. Unfortunately, when a fresh batch of shells was applied to the street, swarms of flies were attracted, creating a public nuisance.
Once abundant throughout Charlotte Harbor, oyster reefs that provide a habitat for fish and shellfish, improve water quality, and can help to stabilize shorelines, declined over time to a fraction of their historic extent.
In 2015, the Nature Conservancy in collaboration with the City of Punta Gorda, Florida DEP-Charlotte Harbor Aquatic Preserves and the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program initiated a project to restore the oyster reefs. A new oyster reef habitat in the shallow waters along Punta Gorda’s Trabue Harborwalk was installed. This pilot project, the first in the northern portion of the Charlotte Harbor estuary, included the creation of nine oyster reefs. The Trabue Harborwalk project was a first step in reestablishing oyster reefs in the Charlotte Harbor Estuary. Reports indicate that the replenishment program is working.