LONG BEACH—In an effort to restore Olympia oyster populations in Southern California, Orange County Coastkeeper – in partnership with the California State Coastal Conservancy and California State University, Long Beach – worked with Long Beach Yacht Club to assist with an ongoing habitat restoration project in the Jack Dunster Marine Reserve.
On Feb. 20 and 27, volunteer dock owners received and suspended strings of clean Pacific oyster shells throughout Alamitos Bay.
The oyster shells allow locally produced native oyster larvae to grow and the oysters provide additional habitat for the larvae. After the native oyster recruitment, or spawning, season – a period of about 30-45 days – participants will retrieve the shell strings from the docks and return them to the Coastkeeper team. The collected shell strings with young oysters will be placed on the mudflat into a community oyster restoration site in the Jack Dunster Marine Reserve.
Beginning in the 1900s, over-harvest of this species, increased coastal development, destruction of wetlands, and increased water pollution led to significant declines of the native Olympia oyster, according to Coastkeeper. Today, native oysters exist primarily as small remnant populations in bays and estuaries.
Coastkeeper said in a Feb. 18 press release restored native Olympia oyster beds provide valuable habitat for estuarine organisms, as well as contribute to improving water quality in Alamitos Bay.