Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Oyster ’seeds’ are dying as Pacific Coast waters grow warmer.

"Alan Trimble, a researcher at the University of Washington, has noticed similar problems in the wild. Sampling seawater in Willapa Bay, Wash., he found that the oyster and clam larvae had disappeared in the last two years from waters where bacteria counts had been high."

Excerpts from L.A. Times article

click on link above to read entire article.

Oyster ’seeds’ are dying as Pacific Coast waters grow warmer.

Published on Sunday, July 13, 2008 by the Los Angeles Times

A Warning From the Sea

Oyster ’seeds’ are dying as Pacific Coast waters grow warmer.

by Kenneth R. Weiss
QUILCENE, WASH. – For decades, the unwritten motto at shellfish hatcheries in the Pacific Northwest was “Better oysters through science.”

Scientists mated the heartiest, fastest-growing stock to produce plumper, sweeter oysters for slurping raw on the half-shell or frying up to dip in tangy sauces.

They probed the genetic code to select for the most desirable traits of the Pacific oyster, an import from Japan that now weighs in, pound for pound, as the No. 1 aquacultured crop in the world: 4.5 million tons a year (shells included) valued at $3 billion.

They even bred out sexual organs that at certain times of the year can take up more than a third of an oyster’s body weight and give it a soft, mushy texture.

With selective breeding and genetic fingerprinting, they were on their way to developing a super oyster resistant to summer mortality, keeping one step ahead of a warmer, more polluted planet. Or so they thought.

Suddenly, oyster research bogged down as a riotous bloom of bacteria went on a West Coast killing spree, wiping out billions of oyster larvae.

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