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Project Oyster Case Study

Case Study Description

Oysters play an important role in maintaining balance in aquatic environments. Due to their method of ingesting food by filtering water around them, they act as living purifiers. In fact, they thrive on excess nutrients and algae that may be harmful to other organisms. This property makes them a viable natural solution to managing waterways affected by phytoplankton blooms caused by anthropogenic nutrient pollution. Emily Hotinger saw the need to conduct a study to investigate if there were any new environments in the Perdido and Pensacola Bay systems that could support oysters to help naturally improve water quality in the bay systems.

Finding the Right Habitat

Like all organisms, oysters require the right conditions to survive. Though they can tolerate wide ranges of temperatures, oysters are sensitive to variables such as salinity and dissolved oxygen. Photosynthesis (PAR) of plants and algae in the water are responsible for much of the water’s dissolved oxygen and are crucial to the survival of oysters.

Emily and her team deployed young oysters all throughout the Perdido and Pensacola Bay systems in areas that had been deemed viable candidate locations based on previous observations. These observations included presence of wild oysters, ideal shoreline conditions and livable salinity levels. The most successful sites would later be reexamined with more sensitive equipment so the research team could reach a better understanding of exactly why the oysters thrived in these specific environments.