By Tara Rippin • 06 April 2021 • 10:20
Ambitious project launch to restore ‘ocean superheroes’ to UK coastal waters.
1,300 native oysters have been returned to waters in River Conwy, Wales, as part of an ambitious restoration project to bring back these ‘ocean superheroes’ from the brink of extinction.
Declining by 95 per cent due to human activities, native oyster populations have continued to decrease since the 1800s, meaning their benefits to the ocean have been lost.
Earning themselves the title ‘ocean superheroes’, native oysters (Ostrea edulis) provide huge benefits to coastal waters by helping to clean our seas and acting as an important habitat for marine wildlife.
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.
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 Conwy Marina and Deganwy Marina of the River Conwy.
The nurseries create a microhabitat acting as 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, explained ZSL.
“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 be carried out by the water hydrodynamics and settle onto the seabed.
“In turn, we hope that the project will help to create cleaner water, healthier fisheries and plentiful marine biodiversity in Britain,” explained Celine Gamble, Wild Oysters Project Manager, ZSL.
The project has partnered locally with the School of Ocean Sciences at Bangor University, and a local project officer will help to monitor and care for the newly placed oysters as part of The Wild Oysters Project.
“Native oyster populations, local to Conway Bay in the Menai Strait near Caernarfon and Bangor, were highly prevalent in 18th and 19th century, with Welsh oyster boats reportedly landing 8,000 oysters daily.
“We know that oysters once thrived in the local area, forming an important part of the local marine ecosystem, now we have the opportunity to restore native oyster populations which will provide important ecosystem services,” said Local Project Officer for the Wild Oysters Project, Maria Hayden-Hughes.
The ambitious three-year Wild Oysters project was awarded £1.18m by the Postcode Dream Trust.
The Dream Fund, run by Postcode Dream Trust, gives organisations the opportunity to bring ambitious, innovative and collaborative projects to life.
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Tara Rippin is a reporter for Spain’s largest English-speaking newspaper, Euro Weekly News, and is responsible for the Costa Blanca region.
She has been in journalism for more than 20 years, having worked for local newspapers in the Midlands, UK, before relocating to Spain in 1990.
Since arriving, the mother-of-one has made her home on the Costa Blanca, while spending 18 months at the EWN head office in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol.
She loves being part of a community that has a wonderful expat and Spanish mix, and strives to bring the latest and most relevant news to EWN’s loyal and valued readers.
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