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Long Beach boaters fight climate change by restoring native oysters

On Sunday, September 18, Long Beach boaters helped improve water quality and defend against rising seas with the help of nonprofit Orange County Coastkeeper and local marine biology students. In May 2022, dozens of Long Beach Yacht Club members collected strings of oyster shells to hang off their docks. Four months later, they returned their strings, 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 have the power to 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% of our Olympia oyster population over the last century,” said Claire Arre, Marine Restoration Director for Orange County Coastkeeper. “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.”

In addition to collecting restored oysters, boaters were invited to stick around to learn more about Olympia oysters and how to identify them. Marine biologists lead interactive science lessons with advanced research lab equipment.

This project is a collaborative effort between Orange County Coastkeeper, the Long Beach Yacht Club, Cal State Long Beach, and Cal State Fullerton. 2022 is the second consecutive year for this project.

“At the Long Beach Yacht Club, we see ourselves as stewards of Alamitos Bay and the outer harbor,” said Mike Gehring, the Long Beach Yacht Club member who organized the event. “Our partnership with Orange County Coastkeeper, which we hope to continue, is one way we promote clean water and a healthy environment. Each year we learn more and more about how to help restore our native oysters.”

Orange County Coastkeeper has created “Living Shorelines” projects in Alamitos Bay and Newport Bay, with plans to expand to Huntington Harbour soon.

This article was released by Orange County Coastkeeper.

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