Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bringin Oysters Back!

The Benthic Ecology Lab at University of North Carolina Wilmington has created The Oyster Spat Monitoring Program, a volunteer effort to discover when and where oysters reproduce and settle along the north, central, and south eastern coasts of North Carolina. Oysters have been in decline as a result of over- harvesting, increased pollution and runoff, and disease and competition from invasive species. Volunteers track the settlement of oysters on a set of ceramic tiles cable-tied to a “Spat Rack” design, which sits below the marsh grass line and are positioned to mimic local oyster reefs. Spat racks are created out of PVC pipe, ceramic tiles, cable ties and a drain hose. Volunteers also collect data on salinity, water and air temperature to learn more about the environment where oysters grow best.

Although UNCW has studied oyster populations for several years, the recent decline in oyster populations has shifted the project’s focus to discovering new methods and procedures that may enhance oyster populations. Another program goal is to restore areas where there are declining populations of oysters around the North Carolina coast. The restoration of oyster populations is important for countless reasons. Oysters are extremely valuable because they provide food, filtration, and fish habitat.

To learn more information about The Oyster Spat Monitoring Program or discover how to become a volunteer and assist in this amazing effort visit the website at
*Picture by volunteer Lee Bailey

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