Monday, December 4, 2017

Gloucester Times Article about Oyster Restoration on the North Shore

There was a delightful write up in the Gloucester Times about the release of oysters raised in the upweller MOP operates with Maritime Gloucester.  You can see the original article here. 

We were pleased to see that this project helped us achieve our goals of getting more oysters in the water and education as thousands of people reached. 

From tank to estuary  
Mike Springer photo of Steve Parkes of Maritime Gloucester casting seed upon the waters. 

The Massachusetts Oyster Project has successfully transferred about 60,000 juvenile oysters into estuaries in the waters off Essex, Gloucester and Ipswich to cap off its first season.
Now, it’s really up to the oysters.
“Obviously, we really want to keep an eye on them and make sure they do well,” said Jennifer Filliault of the Massachusetts Oyster Project. “It should take them a couple years to get to the standard size, which is about 3 inches.”
From July to November, the Massachusetts Oyster Project, in partnership with Maritime Gloucester, raised the oysters in a tank at the maritime education and museum on Harbor Loop. The tiny bivalves started off no bigger than a red-pepper flake and grew first to the size of a dime and then a nickel before being transferred into the wild.
“Maritime Gloucester was just a fantastic partner to work with,” Filliault said. “We had great survivability of the oysters and they became a real resource for educating students and visitors about oysters.”
She estimates more than 5,000 students and 20,000 Maritime Gloucester visitors visited the oyster tank and learned of the social and environmental benefits of oysters. The project provided aquaculture training to Maritime Gloucester interns, volunteers and staff.
The project also formed an alliance with Salem State University researchers to monitor the growth and survival of the oysters in the Essex location.
The oysters — standard Eastern oysters which are individually capable of filtering up to 50 gallons of water per day — now are the property of the individual communities, which will administer when and if they become part of the allocation annually reserved for public gathering.
But, according to Filliault, the oysters will have had the chance to go through several spawning seasons before they reach harvesting size, thus helping organically expand the population in the waters in which they reside.
“We’d like to see them stay in the water, spawn and multiply,” she said.
Filliault said plans for 2018 include working again with Maritime Gloucester on growing another batch of oysters in Gloucester, as well as seeking out other locations and partners on the North Shore or elsewhere to expand the stock of oysters available for transfer.
Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Mass Oyster's Restoration Activity

Over the past ten years, Mass Oyster has been focused on four goals.
  1. Raising awareness about the importance oysters and oyster restoration.
  2. Oyster restoration (Either directly or through financial support of the programs of others.)
  3. Oyster shell recycling
  4. Legislation to improve the Commonwealth's regulatory environment that has impeded our progress with actual restoration programs. 
This post focuses on where we have been actively working across our coast.

Mass Oyster Project Activity Map
Mass Oyster Project Activity Map 

Working North to South-
  • Ipswich- placing seed oysters for oyster propagation
  • Essex- placing seed oysters for oyster propagation
  • Gloucester- raising seed oysters in partnership with the Maritime Gloucester and soon placing oysters for propagation
  • Boston- placing seed oysters for propagation- placing recycled shell
  • Wellfleet- providing recycled shell and financial support to support restoration/propagation
  • Wareham- providing recycled shell and financial support to support restoration/propagation

Thanks to the hard work of our team the footprint is growing. We have learned a great deal and achieved considerable success.  

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Eight Fun Oyster Facts

We have been restoring oysters in Massachusetts for a decade; helping increase populations in Wellfleet, Wareham, and Boston as well as the recent addition Massachusetts' Northshore towns of Gloucester, Essex and Ipswich. In that time we have learned a great deal about oysters and enjoyed slurping down quite a few.  Here are eight interesting facts to ponder.
1. Oyster eating is ancient.  The oldest oyster middens (shell heaps) have been radiocarbon dated to 4,000 B.C., and oyster eating has thousands of years of history among Native Americans along both coasts.  These piles could once be found locally in Cambridge and on the Boston Harbor Islands as well as further North as Maine's Demariscotta River. In Westport, the middens were so large that in the 1800's carriageways were cut through the 40 foot high piles for tours to entertain tourists. (Those Native Americans may have been building up defenses against erosion and coastal storms!) It's also part of the historical record in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, medieval France and England, and even among the Mayans.
Ancients enjoying oysters.

2. Yes, oysters can hear. As we highlighted in a recent Facebook post scientists subjected oysters to low-frequency sounds like those made by cargo ships, human-caused explosions and wind turbines. It caused oysters to clamp their shells shut. Higher-frequency sounds like those made by a speedboat didn't seem to bother them. If you have oysters in a tank, tapping on it can cause them to close their shells, so this is not a huge surprise.
3. Oyster shells are great for your garden. In Colonial times oyster shells were spread on fields to lower the soil acidity. As the shells break down, they release calcium into the soil, which can improve soil pH and lead to healthier plants. In some areas live oysters were used for this purpose. And the shell middens mentioned earlier were often mined for this purpose. If you use expensive bone meal for your bulbs, you may want to think about using oyster shell instead. We also recycle oyster shell working with Boston's SaveThatStuff- they are laid down in inter-tidal areas to give baby oysters a base for attachment.
4. Oysters are mentioned in two Shakespeare plays. "Why, then/the world's mine oyster/Which I with sword will open," is from "The Merry Wives of Windsor" and is the origin of the famous phrase. "As You Like It" includes the less well-known line, "Rich honesty dwells like a miser, sir, in a poor house, as your Pearl in your fouled Oyster."

5. Oysters clean the water. Every day, a single oyster can filters about 40 gallons of water. They do it by pulling water over their gills, which trap nutrients and algae — and the water leaves the oyster cleaner than it came in. We have been repeating this mantra for years as we advocated for their use in polluted areas of Boston Harbor such as Fort Point Channel, Chelsea Creek and the Mystic River. In this blog you can find time lapse videos of them cleaning tanks full of water. (This makes a great school science project or demonstration.)
The oyster pushes water over its gills where nutrients, silt and bacteria are trapped. 

6. Groups of oysters create habitat for other sea life. Oysters grow into reefs that contain nooks and crannies. Those nooks and crannies can shelter 200 other species including shrimp, eels, lobsters, crabs, pogeys and barnacles. These species further support the food chain and improve fishing.  
Oysters Clustering to form a reef.

7. Oyster beds protect against the effects of climate change. A reef made up of oysters not only cleans the water and creates habitat, it also can mitigate coastal flooding and erosion by absorbing 80 percent or more of wave energy, which is especially valuable during large storms. And, oysters are far more attractive than cement or steel bulkheads. (Did the native Americans in Westport know this?)
8. Oyster Restoration can be accomplished inexpensively.  For $30 all-in you can begin a program using a Fran Spat Pool. This ingenious technique can produce 20 million fertile spat in a season!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Maryland Hosting Dedicated Fishing Events on Oyster Restoration Sites

We have been impressed how fishing groups around the country have been embracing oyster restoration to improve their catch. By using oyster restoration to create habitat and support the food chain the number and size of fish rises significantly according to academic studies.  We have seen oyster restoration near fishing piers and in targeted areas in the Carolina's and Texas. 

To highlight the improvement and document it Sherwood, Maryland is organizing a tournament this fall on a restoration area. The Rod and Reef Slam will be on October 7 and has a variety of classes including youth and Kayak. 

Here is a bit more about the event. 


We're celebrating the beginning of a turn for the better in the Chesapeake’s fish and crab habitat. Oyster restoration is beginning to make a difference.
When an estuary loses almost all of its keystone oyster reefs like the Chesapeake has, the change causes fundamental damage.
What has the Bay lost? We know from archaeologists that colonists in St. Mary’s City found sheepshead in abundance in the lower Potomac in the 17th century. How about black sea bass? Tautogs? Puppy drum (red and black)? Spadefish? Filefish?
Some of those fish are turning up now in Virginia, mostly around the rocks on the tubes of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. Some of them are beginning to show up on new reef structures in Maryland, including the reef ball field at Cook’s Point in the mouth of the Choptank.
We want to celebrate this return, keep it growing, and give Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) some data on recreational fishing opportunities around these restoration projects. Join us for a tournament that focuses on three restoration reef areas: the MARI Tilghman Island Reef just outside Knapps Narrows, the Harris Creek reefs, and the Cook’s Point reef ball field in the mouth of the Choptank. Multiple partners have worked together to build these reefs, including the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office, Coastal Conservation Association, Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
This tournament will be a little different. You won’t win just for the biggest fish. Prizes will be awarded for how many species you catch, and then how long your fish are. We’re celebrating variety, and (we hope) the return of some of these great reef species that we’ve been missing. Come join us!


ENTRY FEE: $50 Includes tournament entry, after party food, giveaways, live entertainment and access to a cash bar. Register prior to September 15 to be guaranteed a free Rod and Reef Slam Tournament Shirt.
YOUTH ENTRY: Youth ages 16 and under may participate for free with a participating adult.
AFTER PARTY & AWARDS CEREMONY ONLY: $10 Includes food and entertainment
AFTER PARTY & AWARDS LOCATION: From 3:00p.m.–7:00 p.m. at Lowes Wharf Marina & Inn, 21651 Lowes Wharf Road, Sherwood, MD 21665. Shallow water anchorage at Lowes Wharf is available with water taxis to shuttle boaters to the after party.
FISHING BOUNDARIES: Harris Creek Oyster Sanctuary, Cook’s Point Oyster Sanctuary/ Artificial Reef, Tilghman Island Artificial Reef. Coordinates for the fishing boundaries are forthcoming in the Gallery section of this webpage below.
SPECIES: Any species may be caught. Catch, photo, and release all undersized fish. Refer to the restrictions set by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and abide by the law.
To register go to the link above.  And if you have questions, you can email a contact. 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Oysters in New York Harbor Are Reproducing and Expanding

joe reynoldsAlthough the Eastern or American oyster (Crassostrea virginica), a native mollusk with two rough elongated whitish shells, has been declared by many people around New York Harbor to be “functionally extinct”, the bivalve just doesn’t want to give up. In this arm of the ocean, the will to live seems to be strong in the little sea creature.
The evidence for life is among the flotsam and jetsam along the edge of the estuary. Last October, baby oyster larvae, known as spat, were discovered living on a healthy Eastern oyster shell attached to a mushroom anchor in the Navesink River in New Jersey. Farther upstream, in 2013 a large living oyster reef in the Hudson River was removed near the Tappan Zee Bridge before construction began on a new bridge. A three-man crew spent a week removing almost 200,000 oysters near the bridge and sending them to New York City waters at a cost of nearly $100,000.
oysters 1
Perhaps the best sign of recovery came from the tidal waters near the Statue of Liberty in 2016. Oysters can now be found growing in Upper New York Bay. Around the Statue of Liberty are some of the plumpest and fastest growing in the whole of New York Harbor,” according to Peter Malinowski, founder and director of the Billion Oyster Project, a recovery program from the non-profit New York Harbor Foundation that hopes to restore oyster populations throughout the tidal waters of New York City.
Within this program, members have added nearly 50,000 adult oysters in Jamaica Bay, making it the largest single installation for breeding oysters in the city. The program also has over 19.5 million oysters growing in New York Harbor, with 1.05 acres of reef area restored. Albeit a far cry from the 220,000 acres of oyster beds that once existed when Europeans first arrived in 1609, but it’s an important start.
The work seems to be paying off. Remarkably, I’m finding more and more adult oyster shells washed ashore along Raritan Bay and Sandy Hook Bay with juvenile oysters or spat attached to the surface. The other day while walking along the edge of Sandy Hook Bay in Port Monmouth I discovered a large oyster shell about seven inches long with five young oysters or spat fixed to the shell. One of a few notable finds this year.
Will more spat be found on large oyster shells, perhaps as long at 10 or 12 inches? It all depends on how well the ensuing spawning season goes.
Another breeding season begins now, as adult oysters get busy making the next generation. The Eastern oyster has separate sexes, but oysters will always spawn simultaneously, usually in an entire bed of oysters. Both males and females need to live near each other in shallow tidal waters, in depths between 8 to 25 feet, if spawning is to be successful.
oysters 2
Oysters spawn between late June to November, but peak spawning occurs between June and July when water temperatures rise into the 70s. When local estuarine water temperatures rise, an ancient spawning ritual begins.
Mature female oysters release millions of eggs; the males release an even greater number of sperm. In less than 24 hours, the eggs will become fertilized and develop into microscopic free-swimming larvae that look just like specks of black pepper in the water.
A single female Eastern oyster can produce from 75 to 150 million eggs in a single reproductive cycle, but only one in 1,000, less than one percent, will survive to reach the next life stage. It’s not just humans that have found the culinary delights of oysters. Most young oysters will become fish food.
Yet, for those fortunate tiny black specks that do continue, they will spend the next three weeks or so drifting on currents and tides feeding on phytoplankton or microscopic algae. They will develop a thin shell and a slimy foot to help find a location in which to settle down and stick itself in place. It’s a lot of work and stress for a newborn baby to endure, but the hard work will payoff in a good home.
Oyster larvae will eventually attach themselves to a hard bottom substrate, preferably an adult oyster shell where other spat can grow to form a reef, but almost any firm surface will attract a juvenile oyster, such as a brick, an aluminum can, a glass bottle, or even a used porcelain toilet bowl. Once a baby oyster has found a perfect spot, it will secrete a liquid cement-like substance that fixes or glues itself in place to spend the rest of its life in one place.
Most spat are usually males with some individuals transforming into females after the first or second spawning. Oysters may go back and forth between sexes several times during their lifetime. An oyster can live between 10 to 20 years, but most will only survive about four or five years.
It’s not easy being an oyster in New York Harbor. Virus and diseases, including QX oyster disease, are widespread due, in part, to continuing water pollution problems from raw sewage still entering the estuary from antiquated sewage systems. Oysters are more susceptible to disease when they are stressed by poor water quality. There are also plenty of hungry predators, including birds such as the American oystercatcher and gulls, and numerous aquatic dwellers such as oyster drills, sea anemones, sea stars, sea nettles, whelks, mudworms, and cownose rays.
Yet, despite the challenges, the need to bring back oysters to New York Harbor is imperative. When a large number of oysters join together, it's called an "oyster reef.” Oyster reefs are diverse ecosystems that were once found all over the estuary and provided important protection for coastlines from the damaging effects of wave action from storms and nor’easters, they also provided vital habitat and shelter for many marine organisms.

Science has shown that oysters reefs can be similar or just as productive as coral reefs. In one study in Beaufort, North Carolina more than 300 invertebrate species were identified to be living on local reefs. The nooks and crannies of the reef offer habitat to different species of worms, mollusks, fish, and mud crabs. The presence of these organisms attracts larger predators, which in turn attracts even larger predators, all the way up a food chain to humans. The existence of an oyster reef truly creates a dynamic environment.
An oyster reef can also provide refuge from predation for many species, including small clams, grass shrimp, crabs, and worms. More over, oyster reefs stabilize shorelines and help reduce erosion, an increasingly important asset in an ever-warming world.
What’s more, oysters act as a filter to naturally clean up an estuary. Oysters use their gills to absorb oxygen and strain food out of the water. One adult can strain plankton and organic matter at a rate of up to 50 gallons per day (or 1500 times its body volume). A healthy oyster reef contributes significantly to overall water clarity in the estuary. It’s no wonder there is an important project in New York State to bring back a billion oysters into New York Harbor.
Unfortunately in New Jersey, restoration efforts in Raritan Bay and Sandy Hook Bay and surrounding state tidal waters have been put on hold due to the lack of state funds. Let’s hope a new governor, which will be elected this November, will reestablish funds to help return oyster reefs to functioning ecosystems. This will help to improve water quality and benefit fish populations throughout the busy and bustling waters of New York Harbor for many species to enjoy.
To view more pictures, video, or stories of wildlife around Sandy Hook Bay, Raritan Bay, and Lower New York Bay, please visit my nature blog, NY Harbor Nature at

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

What is an upweller?

Under the leadership of Jennifer Filiault and Steve Parks, the MOP team has begun construction of an upweller at the Maritime GloucesterMuseum to raise infant oyster spat to a 2 inch size so that they can be used for oyster propagation.

An upweller is a system of tanks that flow seawater over the oyster spat so that it receives a good flow of nutritious water for it to filter and feed on. The oysters filter out the plankton, digest it and use the nutrition to grow.  A typical upweller contains the oyster spat in containers with screen bottoms. The water is forced up through the screen bottoms around the oysters and out the top where it is returned to the ocean or estuary.

upweller phtoto
Diagram of an Upweller Oyster Nursery

The screen is changed over the course of a growing season as the oyster spat grows. Initially we are starting with the finest mesh screen we could get at Home Depot. It can even keep out No-see-ums! Over time our interns will be changing the screen to larger and larger mesh sizes.

image of upweller oyster nursery construction
Adding Screen to the Buckets

Image of Upweller oyster nursery construction
Bucket with Screen for Upweller Oyster Nursery

There are several types of upwellers and they are largely classified by their location. They can be in the water beneath a dock, near the water on a floating dock, or in our case, on structures. Ours will be located on a dock at Maritime Gloucester.

Upweller Oyster Nursery Photo

In mid-June we will be receiving 60,000 baby oysters or spat. They will be approximately 1-2 millimeters in size. They will be delivered via FedEx in a coffee can sized container. While they start off small, they will grow fast. By September they will be 2 inches long. It is amazing to see the growth!  

When we first started restoring oysters to Boston Harbor we experimented with some dime sized oysters. From August 9th to September 9th they grew from the size of a dime to the size of a quarter! It was an amazing transition that filled us with excitement seeing the oysters could grow so robustly.

As we move into fall the oysters will be 1.5-2 inches in length. They will begin storing glycogen for the winter when they go into hibernation mode. At seasons end, we will test the oysters to be sure they are safe, and then find them a new home.  

To learn more about bvuilding an upweller you can visit this PDF file..

Monday, June 5, 2017

A Bit About Raising Oysters for Pearls in Polynesia

One of our Board members is in the jewelry industry. She is learning more about pearls. She provided this information about growing the oysters. 

Pearl farms in French Polynesia don’t operate hatcheries, so the collection of wild shell is of paramount importance. Spat are collected by placing objects, such as dark plastic mesh, to lines a few feet below the water’s surface. As spat float by on the current, the baby mollusks attach themselves to the object using their byssus (foot).
Spat collectors with thousands of shells attached
After six months, the spat collectors are taken to the surface, and the baby mollusks are removed. A single collector might host 15,000 baby shells. They are placed into special baskets and hung from growing platforms at depths  of up to eight meters.
Three black-lipped shells at various stages of growth
When the shells are nearly adults, they undergo their first operation—one that is unique to pearling operations that utilize black lips. They are pulled from the water, and a small hole is drilled through the shells. There is no danger to the animal during this operation as the piercing is just outside the hinge. A nylon rope is then inserted through this hole and tied. This process is repeated, resulting in a chain, or chaplet, of ten to twenty pearl mollusks. The chaplets are returned to the platform for the final grow-out of the young shells.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Improving Clam Populations with Sea Grass and Oyster Shell

In the popular press we have seen several articles about ocean acidification adversely affecting the growth of clams and some species of oyster. This article from a Yale Environmental blog does a wonderful job laying out the challenge and two solutions: eel grass that can process CO2 in the water and placing oyster shell. We have been recycling shell at the Mass Oyster Project for over a decade. Oyster shell was once a major part of our estuarine ecosystems. By returning it through recycling or oyster restoration, we are bringing that balance back. 

How Growing Sea Plants Can Help Slow Ocean Acidification

Researchers are finding that kelp, eelgrass, and other vegetation can effectively absorb CO2 and reduce acidity in the ocean. Growing these plants in local waters, scientists say, could help mitigate the damaging impacts of acidification on marine life.
Robert Schwemmer/NOAA
Harvesting kelp, shown here off the California coast, removes CO2 from the ecosystem.
Oregon’s picturesque Netarts Bay has long been known for its oysters. But Netarts, like the whole west coast of North America, is getting more acidic. And the oysters don’t like it.
Since the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide in the air has seeped into ocean waters and boosted acidity by 30 percent. Globally, the oceans’ pH has dropped from 8.2 to 8.1, and could drop another 0.4 units by the end of the century. The problem is worse off the west coast of North America, where acidic bottom-waters are brought up to the surface by onshore winds. Corrosive waters like those suck up the building blocks for shells, and can literally eat away at the skeletons of corals.
Last summer, Oregon State University marine ecologist George Waldbusser and his team boated around Netarts Bay planting baby oysters to see how they would fare. The only ones that thrived were those protected by beds of eelgrass, which seemed to swallow up enough carbon dioxide during the peak of each day to give the oysters a break from acid and a window of opportunity for growth.
“Basically nothing outside of those beds survived,” says Waldbusser, who hasn’t yet published the work. Meanwhile, the Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery in Netarts Bay has started only pulling water into their tanks in the afternoon, when photosynthesis peaks and the water is less acidic.
Waldbusser is part of a small team of scientists now exploring the idea that seagrasses, kelps, and shell beds might be able to counteract the rising tide of ocean acidity in local hot spots, making life a little easier for struggling animals. He and other experts on the West Coast Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia Science Panel, which released its first report this April, recommended that scientists and managers push forward such strategies to suck CO2 out of the water.
The idea is a smaller, gentler cousin to grander schemes of geo-engineering. There have been proposals to soak up the ocean’s excess acid by throwing iron, limestone, or olivine into the water, boosting plankton growth, adding the building blocks for shells, or chemically absorbing CO2. But the general response to such plans usually ranges from head-shaking disbelief that they might be feasible or effective, to widespread concern about the possible ecological side effects. The energy needed to mine and distribute rocks, and the unpredictable shift in food webs, have made these schemes unappealing on a global scale. 
One study said seagrass meadows should give corals about an 18 percent boost in growth.
On the local scale, however, lower-cost, lower-risk ecological restoration might have the dual benefit of giving threatened sea creatures both a better place to live and a refuge from ocean acid.
Oysters would not be the only creatures to benefit. Derek Manzello manages a long-term ocean acidification monitoring site at Cheeca Rocks in the Florida Keys, as part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Coral Reef Monitoring Program. That particular patch of coral is one of the only reefs in the Florida Keys that is still growing; in other reefs, most corals have died from disease and bleaching since the early 1980s. This is odd because Cheeca Rocks, like other near-shore spots in Florida, sees high temperature swings and large amounts of soil and nutrients dumped into the water, which should limit coral growth. There are several possible explanations for Cheeca Rocks’ resistance to these problematic conditions, including that the corals there might be genetically adapted to thrive in harsh conditions. But another possible explanation is that they are living in a low-acidity refuge created by nearby seagrass beds.
In 2012, Manzello showed that Florida’s inshore waters, including where Cheeca Rocks sits, are packed with dissolved aragonite, the material that corals need to grow. Acids in the water decrease the aragonite saturation value; if it gets below 1, corals and shells start to dissolve. In pre-industrial times, these inshore waters typically had a saturation value of 4.6. Today, most reefs in Florida and the Caribbean have been eked down to 3.8. But Florida’s inshore waters have a happy 4.7.
“This is a huge difference,” says Manzello. The reason is the banks of seagrass growing in Florida’s inshore waters, like turtle grass and manatee grass, that suck up CO2 as they photosynthesize — particularly in the spring.
Another study out that same year showed the same effect in the tropical Indo-Pacific. Seagrass meadows there have the potential to increase aragonite saturation by up to 2.9 units, and the pH by 0.38. That should give corals about an 18 percent boost in growth, making seagrass a potential tool for marine park managers, the authors write.
George Waldbusser/OSU
Stephanie Smith stands in a bed of Zostera marina seagrass in Netarts Bay with the CO2 sensor she designed while a graduate student at Oregon State University.
The potential is huge. Plants in the ocean, from seagrasses to plankton, add up to just 0.05 percent of the plant biomass on land, but are so pervasive and efficient at sucking up carbon that they cycle through roughly the same amount of carbon every day as all the land-based plants. Yet seagrass ecosystems are being wiped out, thanks to everything from pandemic disease to water pollution and coastal construction projects. The rate of loss has skyrocketed from less than 1 percent of global seagrass cover per year in the 1970s to 7 percent annually in the 2000s, making seagrasses one of the planet’s most threatened ecosystems. Efforts to restore or farm such plants could have a host of benefits, including soaking up atmospheric carbon.
Waldbusser cautions that many scientists don’t yet know about the effect of seagrasses on ocean chemistry. Some breeds, like the invasive Zostera japonicaeelgrass in Oregon, tend to shed their leaves in the winter, and the degrading plant matter boosts carbon dioxide levels in the water rather than lowering them. And if the water is swift flowing, then any patches of water made less acidic by plants will likely be swept away before they have a chance to benefit local shellfish or corals.
Seagrasses aren’t the only possible solution. Kelp is also well known for soaking up excess nutrients and making waters cleaner for shellfish. Most academic papers looking at the benefits of kelp don’t even mention acidification. But it didn’t take much for Nichole Price of the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Science in Maine to put two and two together. “The biggest challenge in land-based kelp nurseries is keeping the pH low enough because they consume so much CO2,” says Price, who wondered how those same photosynthetic algae were affecting ocean waters.
Price teamed up with Ocean Approved, North America’s first commercial kelp farmer, to put instruments inside and outside of its kelp farms to see what was going on. In as-yet-unpublished work, they show that the aragonite saturation level is half a unit to a full unit higher within the kelp farm. “That’s bigger than the change we expect from ocean acidification,” she says. Next year they plan to map the extent of the impact, and test the effect of the kelp on a mussel farm around the corner. That farm, says Price, has already started growing kelp based on these preliminary results. 
Researchers will soon start the first large-scale project to plant and grow kelp to suck up CO2.
The key, says Price, is to harvest the kelp so that the carbon it extracts gets removed from the ecosystem. It’s hard to compete with Asian kelp suppliers, but local kelp could be dried and used as food or fertilizer, adding a layer of economic diversity to a struggling coastal economy. “There’s a lot of potential for shellfish aquaculture, but people are really hesitant [because of acidification],” says Price, who now heads up Bigelow’s Centers for Venture Research. Pairing up with seaweeds might be the trick to buy new businesses a bit of insurance against future conditions, she says.
This autumn, researchers will start the first large-scale project to intentionally plant and grow kelp to suck up carbon dioxide. The Puget Sound Restoration Fund, based in Bainbridge Island, Washington, won $1.5 million from the Paul G. Allen Ocean Challenge in April 2015 to investigate the potential for sugar kelp to reduce acidity in local waters, where the pH can hit 7.8. Plans call for starting farming an acre of kelp this October.
Ocean waters can be buffered against acids by non-living material, too. Instead of soaking up carbon dioxide, the strategy here is to add more carbonate to the water. That shifts the aragonite saturation point and, again, makes it easier for shells to grow. 
Nearly every estuary that once had a thriving oyster industry hosts an effort to put old shells back into the water, says Waldbusser. Most, if not all, of these projects are focused on giving the oysters or other shellfish something to grow on — their babies prefer to sit on piles of old shells, rather than getting buried or choked by mud. The fact that these shells help to buffer water acidity is an added bonus.
The Chesapeake Bay, he notes, has seen the largest oyster reef restoration effort to date and also possibly the largest (and unintentional) ocean acidification buffering experiment. About 196 million bushels of dredged oyster shells were put back into Chesapeake Bay from 1960 until 2006, before the project coordinators ran low on shells. They’re still about 100 million bushels short of where the Chesapeake’s ecology would have been had oysters not been extracted for centuries, notes Waldbusser, and the effects on the bay’s complex water chemistry have so far been hard to track. But that doesn’t mean that shells can’t shift pH significantly under different conditions.
In previous work off the coast of Maine, Waldbusser’s team, led by Mark Green of Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, mixed old ground-up shells with ocean sediments and replanted them. They then looked to see how that affected oysters. Three times as many oyster larvae settled in the shell-rich soils as in the non-shelled soils, they found. The reason, Waldbusser thinks, is because of a change in water acidity within the pores of the sediment.
Examining How Marine Life Might Adapt to Acidified Oceans
In an interview with Yale Environment 360, marine biologist Gretchen Hofmann discusses how well mollusks and other shell-building organisms might evolve to live in increasingly corrosive ocean conditions caused by soaring CO2 emissions.READ MORE
“You have this incredibly hostile environment in the pore water, which is generally more acidic than the overlying water,” says Waldbusser. “Mix shell in and it’s a little less hostile.”
Waldbusser is familiar with other proposed ways of shifting ocean pH. He wrote a proposal to use the waste CO2 emitted from a hatchery to dissolve calcium carbonate rocks and bubble the products back into the ocean, helping to buffer acidity in much the same way as is done in home aquariums. But it didn’t get funded. “There are lots of technologies that exist and things you can do, but it comes back to scalability and unintended consequences,” says Waldbusser. Using rocks to buffer ocean water, for example, involves using energy to treat the minerals beforehand so they dissolve, and then you have to worry about toxic levels of nickel or cadmium hitching a ride along with the rocks.
In the end, says Waldbusser, “I always come back to restoration.” Replanting the seagrasses or shell banks that used to exist in an estuary is much safer, and often easier, than some industrial schemes. And, he adds, it probably comes with “built-in benefits that we don’t even recognize.”

Monday, May 15, 2017

Virginia Oyster Hatchery Jobs

Shellfish Hatchery Job Vacancies
Cherrystone Aqua Farms is currently seeking qualified candidates to fill several new positions and vacancies.  Cherrystone Aqua Farms is a vertically integrated shellfish farming business located on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.  The company operates two large commercial hatcheries and numerous nurseries throughout the region.  Cherrystone is in the process of constructing a new 10,000 square foot hatchery to expand our production capabilities and meet the demand for current and future needs.  The below positions will be filled when a suitable candidate is obtained.  Please send Cover Letter and Resume to
We are currently accepting applications and resumes for the positions listed below:
1.  Assistant Hatchery Manager-
Duties involve all aspects of hatchery operation and are to include but are not limited to the following:
·       Supervising and executing all aspects of operation in manager’s absence
·       Delegating responsibility and tasks when necessary
·       General hatchery maintenance to maintain equipment and culture systems
·       Duties may require assistance with the rearing of juvenile clams larval, nursery and outside upwelling systems
·       Assist in reporting and monitoring all hatchery logs and records for accuracy.
·       Working Weekends
·       Operation, assistance and monitoring of 24hour call out system and/or emergency situations before, during and after normal working hours
·       Position requires a candidate with Shellfish hatchery experience
*Compensation and Benefits: Salary will be commensurate with experience.
2.  Algae Culture Coordinator
Duties involve all aspects of algae culture and are to include but are not limited to the following:
·       Responsible for preparation and sustainment of facility algae systems
·       Microscopic inspection and counting of Algae when necessary
·       Monitoring and Reporting nutrient, pH and CO2 issues or problems
·       Direction/Organization and/or completion of the transfer and inoculation of all systems including algal stocks
·       Direction/Organization and/or preparation of sterilization of media and equipment
·       Maintaining, routinely cleaning and properly storing all equipment
·       Monitoring and filling algae collection and reservoir tanks
·       Cleaning all water and algae collection tanks as well as filtration system used in the facility
·       Monitor and report supplies and chemicals needed for algae work
·       Assist with 24-hour callout should manager and assistant manager be unavailable
·       This position will oversee the entire hatcheries algae personnel.
·       Willingness to work weekends
*Compensation and Benefits: Salary will be commensurate with experience

3.  Algae Culture Technician
Duties involve all aspects of algae culture and are to include but are not limited to the following:
·       Assist in preparing and sustaining all facility algae systems
·       Monitoring nutrients, pH and CO2 levels
·       Transferring, inoculating and maintaining all algae systems including flask cultures and algal stocks
·       Sterilizing and preparing media and equipment
·       Maintaining, routinely cleaning and properly storing all equipment
·       Filling and monitoring all algae collection and reservoir tanks
·       Cleaning all water and algae collection tanks as well as filtration system used in the facility
·       Assist in other hatchery departments when needed or directed by supervisor
·       Willingness to work weekends
*Compensation and Benefits: Salary 25-35K annual based on knowledge and experience.
4.  Larvae/Nursery Technician

Duties involve all aspects of rearing both larval and juvenile clams in aquaculture nursery and are to include but are not limited to the following.
·       Maintaining brood stock for conditioning including detailed logs with dates of arrival and reconditioning
·       Monitoring brood stock room and tank temperatures as well as feeding levels
·       Routine cleaning of all pipes and pumps filling or feeding the brood stock tanks
·       Clean and monitor feeding reservoirs and timer’s.
·       Clean brood stock on established schedule and as needed, prepare and/or collect water for the following change.
·       Responsible for cleaning clams and feeding clams at or above 200 microns in size in downwelling and upwelling systems
·       Cleaning and assembling cylinders, tanks and associated equipment during and after sieving.
·       Maintaining and cleaning fill lines and pumps as needed
·       Volume and distribute clams in the downwelling and upwelling systems
·       Monitor feed and flow timer and report any issue to supervisor
·       Assist in larval culture including tank cleaning, larval feedings and setting
·       Assist in water collection for larval water changes
·       Willingness to work weekends
*Compensation and Benefits: Salary 25-35K annual based on knowledge and experience.

Tim Rapine
Ballard Fish and Oyster Company