New Lease on Life for Hidden Oyster Beds

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Check out oyster happy hours and other seafood deals around town.

    Keep your eyes out for more oysters in Bay Area wetlands, with a new plan for restoring the once-plentiful Olympia oysters.

    It's the culmination of a lengthy collaboration between various environmental organizations, according to the CC Times.

    It's a bold plan, with many measures that have never before been attempted on such a large scale. The work may start with smaller, experimental projects.

    But many questions remain about exactly how to proceed. Some underwater areas are relatively unexplored, and researchers will need to analyze the sub-surface habitats more closely to determine the current state of the ecosystem and how to help it heal.

    The oyster beds, in particular, are quite opaque. But we do know that they've lived in the area for thousands of years, with tons of oyster fossils known to exist all around the bay.

    Oysters are particularly vulnerable to absorbing pollutants.

    Eventually, advocates hope that the project will be successful enough to support commercial oyster farming. But that would take many years, since the bay is still very polluted with toxic chemicals. It could take decades -- or even more than a century -- before our water is clean enough to farm bivalves.

    Residential chemical usage, such as fertilizer and pesticide, is a major contributor to water pollution.

    As environmental restoration proceeds, other species will feel the benefits. The plan calls for an expansion of eel grass, which would in turn give herring more breeding habitat.