Saving Oysters in Oregon – week 8

adventures with Half-and-Half

This week, I was studying how water flow is affected by the shape of oyster shells and larger oyster conglomerations.  I used a flume, which looks like this:

A propeller pushes the water through the flume, and laminators (not in this picture, sorry) that are placed right after the white tubing straightens the water flow through the clear plastic compartment.  The idea is to place an oyster or a clump of oysters into the center of the clear plastic portion, dispense a little bit of half-and-half into the flow, and videotape how its flow is affected!  Half-and-half makes a good indicator because it’s buoyant and thick.


Plastic walls and a room full of windows ensured that glare would be a constant foe, so we decided to block out almost all sources of light by making this:


It was a pretty cozy set-up.

That’s my half-and-half dispenser right there.  It exerts a tiny bit of pressure that pushes a small volume of half-and-half out of a curved glass pipette (I made it myself! glass-blowing skills, yeah!).


And you get something like this:


We used different shell combinations, different water velocities, and dispensed the half-and-half at different depths to see how water flow changes near the bottom of a shell, right at the center, or right above.  You can even go a little crazy and try to direct the flow through spaces between oysters and make the half-and-half corkscrew!

These are the different oyster formations we used:



From the 96 videos we shot, we have learned that the shape of oyster shells or oyster clusters can ultimately slow down particles in the water by creating turbulence.  This can have implications for the benefits of arranging in clusters, by increasing rates of feeding and larval settlement.


next week…

preparing for my final Oregon Sea Grant scholar presentation on all my work I’ve done here!

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One thought on “Saving Oysters in Oregon – week 8

  1. Looks like fun (and a nice spot to sneak in a nap). So did you use image analysis to measure water velocities?

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