1,300 native oysters have been returned to waters in the Firth of Clyde as part of an ambitious restoration project to bring back these ‘ocean superheroes’ from the brink of extinction.
The Wild Oysters Project, a partnership between ZSL (Zoological Society of London), Blue Marine Foundation (BLUE), and British Marine aims to help restore healthy, resilient coastal waters around the UK.
Earning themselves the title ‘ocean superheroes’, native oysters (Ostrea edulis) provide great benefits to the oceans health, including filtering pollutants from our seas and acting as an important habitat for marine wildlife. Declining by 95% due to human activities, native oyster populations have continued to decrease since the 1800s, meaning their benefits to the ocean have been lost.
In a bid to restore native oyster populations, and in turn see the return of healthy coastal waters, nurseries filled with oysters will be suspended underneath marina pontoons in Largs Yacht Haven and Fairlie Quay Marina.
The nurseries create a micro habitat where the oysters can reproduce, much like a maternity ward to the next generation of oysters. These oysters will begin reproducing over the next few months, releasing millions of baby oysters, known as larvae, into the ocean.
“The Firth of Clyde is an important area for marine life and with just a handful of known oyster populations remaining across the 4000km2 sea area of The Clyde, we have an exciting opportunity to contribute to the restoration of local native oyster populations here in the West of Scotland,” said Celine Gamble, Wild Oysters Project Manager, ZSL. “Thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we can work to restore the native oyster population to support healthy, resilient, coastal waters in west Scotland.
“Now the oysters are in their new home in the marinas, they will almost immediately begin their important work each filtering 200 litres of water a day. In the coming months, the oysters will start to produce the next generation of the oyster population, by releasing larvae which will then settle onto the seabed. It’s our ambition that the project will help to create cleaner water, healthier fisheries and plentiful marine biodiversity in Britain.”
The project has partnered locally with the Clyde porpoise CIC and local working group Fairlie Coastal Trust. A local project officer will help to monitor and care for the newly placed oysters as part of The Wild Oysters Project.
The Wild Oysters Project Local Project Officer and Clyde porpoise CIC Founder, David Nairn, said; “Inshore dredging, pollution, climate change, and illegal shellfish harvesting have all contributed to the demise of the native oyster population here in the Firth of Clyde,” said The Wild Oysters Project Local Project Officer and Clyde porpoise CIC Founder, David Nairn. “Restoring this incredible species under marina pontoons will enable us to support healthy coastal waters in the Clyde and across Scotland, while also providing an outdoor classroom for local schools and communities, creating a ‘window’ into the ocean to inspire the next generation to protect and care for the marine environment.”
The Wild Oysters Project have deployed a total of 4,000 native oysters into nurseries, underneath marina pontoons across the Firth of Clyde in Scotland, Tyne and Wear in NE England and Conwy Bay in Wales.
Find out more about the project here.