Friday, May 22, 2009

Our vanishing oysters

I love oysters. I love to eat the little buggers, and I admire their "fix-it" role in ocean ecosystems--consuming at least some of the fruits of our effluent when they eat plankton. I also enjoy looking at them underwater in reefs, and separate when they're malleable and often twisted shapes are visible.

In brief, oysters rock. To show my appreciation and bond with oysters, I have a fantastic little oyster shell (drilled naturally by a predator and smoothed by ocean surf) that I found in Baja California and now wear around my neck on a leather string (right).

So imagine my dismay when I read the first-ever worldwide report on the status of oysters, and it's gloomy. I know that oysters are in trouble in the US, but I don't really know that much about their worldwide status.

A study by the Nature Conservancy says that 85% of the world's oyster reefs are gone. Oyster reefs are one of the most endangered ocean ecosystems in the world. Cry for the missing bivalves.

7 comments:

Mola2mola said...

Indicative of the current status of many of our commercial fisheries stock, the report says that the greatest problem is “…simply perception among managers that there is not a problem.”

Hence overfishing, coastal development, etc. continues

Anonymous said...

A simple suggestion-

NEVER eat a filter feeder!

Ingesting flesh derived from metabalizing the effluence of human activity may not be the best nutritional source...

Just say'n

Tracy Rouleau said...

Thanks Mark for this post! While I am familiar with the Chesapeake efforts, I had no idea oysters were in such trouble globally - and like you, I am a fan! A huge fan in fact! I simply can't imagine a world without oysters...

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Ed said...

So why is the Johnson Oyster Company being told they have to abandon their 100+ year old oyster farm from Drakes Bay in California? Given the beneficial effects of oysters in the ecosystem, I would think all efforts would be made to promote their continued success where ever they are found.

Lee said...

Sharks are Kings of the ocean, although I must thank the film Jaws for getting me into sharks. Fascinating creatures.

Dazy said...

I've read that others have been trying to restore the oyster beds that once kept nutrient-caused algae blooms in check. Oysters filter algae out of the water. Back in 1607, oysters were so numerous they filtered the Chesapeake’s entire water volume every three to four days.