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Native oysters restored to UK waters - Zoological Society of London

Restoration efforts begin by placing ‘ocean superheroes’ under marina pontoons across the UK

The Team adding oysters into the nursery
The Team adding oysters into the nursery

4,000 native oysters are being returned to UK waters as part of an ambitious restoration project, which for the first time is spanning coastal regions across England, Scotland and Wales. 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 by bringing back these ‘ocean superheroes’ from the brink of extinction.

Earning themselves the title ‘ocean superheroes’, native oysters (Ostrea edulis) provide huge benefits to our coastal waters by helping to clean 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.
The first mature native oysters have now been housed in nurseries, a micro habitat acting as a maternity ward to the next generation of oysters, suspended underneath marina pontoons in the North East of England. These oysters will begin reproducing over the next few months, releasing millions of baby oysters, known as larvae, into the ocean. This is the first step in the project’s aim to restore native oysters, increasing wild populations around the British coast and see the return of healthy coastal waters.
“These oysters will produce the next generation of the oyster population, by releasing larvae which will settle onto the seabed,” explained Celine Gamble, Wild Oysters Project Manager, ZSL. “Despite their small size oysters are capable of filtering 200 litres of water a day, the oysters will almost immediately begin their important work helping to create cleaner water and increase marine biodiversity in the UK.”

Posted on: 24 March 2021

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