State of the Salish Sea, Salish Sea, Puget Sound, oysters, Olympia oysters, conservation, ecosystem, climate change
Olympia oysters (Ostrea lurida) are our only native oyster species here in the Salish Sea. Olympia oysters once covered an estimated 13-26% of the intertidal area in Puget Sound, mostly near the heads of inlets. A combination of overharvest, pollution, and habitat loss reduced the current population to less than 4% of historic numbers, though sparse numbers of Olympia oysters can still be found throughout most of their historic distribution. Looking to the future, as our region’s marine waters experience effects of climate change and ocean acidification (OA), native species such as the Olympia oyster may prove to be a critical building block in overall resilience of the marine ecosystem. By bringing back what was once abundant—our small but mighty Olympia oyster—we may also be bringing a more reliable stream of benefits that they provide—including improved water quality and local food—as they (and we) weather changing ocean conditions.
State of the Salish Sea
Salish Sea Institute
Toft, J; Peabody, B. (2021). Olympia Oysters. In K.L. Sobocinski, State of the Salish Sea. Salish Sea Institute, Western Washington University. http://doi.org/10.25710/vfhb-3a69
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