THE NATIVE OYSTER PROJECT SO FAR

Following a pilot project conducted by our volunteer association CROMACH (Craignish Restoration of Coastal and Marine Habitats), in 2020, we formed the charity Seawilding and secured a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant for a five-year project to grow up to 1 million juvenile native oysters in Loch Craignish to restore the natural beds.

 

Our juvenile native oysters – spat - are sourced from Morecambe Bay Hatchery, and arrive weighing around 1 gramme. We grow them on in our nursery, a series of floating cages until they weigh approximately 12 grammes. This takes 3-4 months in the summer. At this point they’re big enough to sit on the sea-bottom and survive a degree of predation from starfish and crabs.

 

We’ve conducted extensive baseline surveys around the Loch, searching for the best release sites which have good substrate, shelter and depth. When the oysters go onto the seabed, we broadcast them by hand into the shallows at a low spring tide. By the end of 2021, we'll have restored over 300,000 native oysters. They are growing exceptionally well, with the ones on the seabed showing a high survival rate despite predation by starfish and crabs.

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CROMACH's Aidan Gregory grading the    p
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It’s early days but the oysters are doing well with a high survival rate. Come the spring, we will kick-off our long-term monitoring of the release sites. Watch this space! 

 

Meanwhile there’s lots of science and research opportunities. To this end, we have teamed up with the Scottish Association of Marine Sciences (SAMS) and the School of Aquaculture, Stirling University to help MSc students research, monitor and survey our restoration efforts.

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The map shows all the protected areas around the Loch Craignish Native Oyster Restoration Project. The turquoise areas are the newly formed Argyll Hope Spot.

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Loch Craignish Oyster Restoration Project

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This sounds amazing, how do I keep in touch or help out?