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South coast native oysters may survive acidification threat

Posted by: | August 5, 2013 Comments Off |

Oyster baskets at Whiskey Creek Shellfish HatcheryCOOS BAY – While some West coast oyster stocks are threatened by rising ocean acidity, native oysters on Oregon’s south coast seem to be doing well.

Netarts Bay’s Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery — which produces much of the oyster seed used by commercial farms in the region —has experienced a decline in production that Oregon State University researchers traced directly to ocean acidification.

But biologist Steve Rumrill, director of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife shellfish monitoring program at the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, suspects that the shallow parts of Coos Bay “may be able to act as a sort of buffer,” protecting native Olympia oysters in that area from the shell-destroying effects of ocean acidification.

Another clue could lie in the oysters’ breeding habits, according to George Waldbusser, an OSU biologist who studies oyster reproduction and survival.

“Olympias are brooders,” Waldbusser said, referring to the species’ trait of carrying eggs in an internal chamber for several weeks after fertilization, whereas the Pacific oysters bred in Netarts Bay broadcast their fertilized eggs into the open water, where they are directly exposed to chemical changes at an earlier point in their life cycles, when they may be more vulnerable.

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under: aquaculture, ocean acidification, research, seafood, shellfish

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