LONG BEACH — On Sept. 18, Long Beach boaters helped enhance water quality and protection against rising sea levels along with Orange County Coastkeeper and local marine biology students. In May 2022, several Long Beach Yacht Club members gathered strings of oyster shells to hang off their docks. They returned to their strings four months later, hoping to find Olympia oysters attached to the shells. After inspection by Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach marine biologists, these native oysters will be transferred to their restoration site in the Jack Dunster Marine Biological Reserve.
Olympia oysters are the only oyster species native to California’s coast. Orange County Coastkeeper uses these oysters and native eelgrass to create “Living Shorelines” projects. Together, oysters and eelgrass can improve water quality, increase fish populations, and reduce the impacts of sea level rise. For example, one adult Olympia oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water daily.
“We’ve lost 90 percent of our Olympia oyster population over the last century,” said Claire Arre, Marine Restoration Director for Orange County Coastkeeper, in a press release from Sept. 18. “We want to help stabilize the decline of that species and hopefully put it back on the upswing. These amazing creatures have the ability to improve human health, provide habitat for wildlife, and strengthen our marine ecosystem.”
This project is the second consecutive year that the collaborative effort between Orange County Coastkeeper, the Long Beach Yacht Club, Cal State Long Beach, and Cal State Fullerton has occurred.
Orange County Coastkeeper has created “Living Shorelines” projects in Alamitos Bay and Newport Bay, with plans to expand to Huntington Harbour soon.