By Michal Crawford-Zimring
“Oysters glorious oysters!”
I’m sure that’s what Oliver and his friends would have sung if they had only
known… Our native Olympia oysters were once glorious and so abundant that the local
Native Americans piled their shells high into mounds. However, their numbers have declined
drastically over time. Fortunately, The Watershed Project and others who care about the oysters
have ongoing restoration projects to bring back native oysters–not as gloriously as in
the past, but at least to levels that will help restore some healthy biology to the bay.
I am happy to be a volunteer citizen scientist and help out on this important
work. It’s also fun just to go out on the bay, walk along the water and in the mud, and
check in on the monitoring of the oyster counts.
The last time I volunteered was at low tide on a Sunday afternoon, and Living Shoreline Program Manager Christopher Lim and Education Coordinator Diana Dunn led a group
of volunteers out to Point Pinole Regional Park to do some counting and measuring of
oyster spats. The first task for the day was to check on the tiles that
volunteers had tied to rebar posts and then stabilized into the sediment last August. We
pulled up the tiles and took pictures to send back as data to scientists who are recording
the monitoring. We also tried to retrace the steps that Diana had taken during the initial
layout so we could do a second count of oysters from approximately the same location.
Once we had taken care of the tiles, we laid down a grid and counted and measured the oysters on the rocks in the
sample area. We also took readings of temperature and salinity. It seems as though Pt.
Pinole may be one of the better locations to get recruitment of oysters going.
Recruitment is kind of a neat word to use. Recruiting oysters and volunteers.
Volunteering is a lot of fun because there is always something going on and it’s cool to
know you are doing something, however small, that is part of the restoration of
biodiversity in the bay. It is something that I am passionate about, because the bay, the
estuaries, the wetlands, the salt marshes are so valuable for this area and one of the
reasons why we are so fortunate to live here.
I have read a lot about oyster ecology and so volunteering is a great way to
connect the people in the community who care about the bay with one of
the keystone species– the Olympia oysters. Together, we are helping to make their comeback a reality.