University of Mississippi Students Investigate Oyster Population in Mississippi Gulf

ANN BARNETT: This is really
detrimental to marine life, because oysters,
they’re bivalves that can close themselves
up under stress. But when it lasts for that long,
they eventually have to open up or they’re going to starve or
they won’t be able to breathe. What we found when going out
on the boat back in September, we unfortunately did not
find any live oysters in any of our native
oyster reef sites. JOHNATHAN HARRIS: Oysters
are filter feeders, so they eat a lot of
the harmful things that accumulate on the
bottom of the ocean, or the bottom of the
sound in this case. And without them here, there’s
nothing cleaning the water. JAMES GLEDHILL: Oysters offer
a lot of different ecosystem services. So they are constantly
filtering water. So they clean the water up. They provide a buffer
against shoreline erosion. So they prevent erosion
of our shorelines. And they provide habitat
for other fish species and other species of animals
that live in estuaries. So they do all these really
good things for the environment. And since this freshwater has
come in– and at our sites, we see that there’s
large-scale mortality– we’ve lost those ecosystem
services that they provide. AUSTIN SCIRCLE:
Hopefully other people can learn from some of the
stuff that we’ve been doing and apply it to other areas
where maybe the rivers are similar in size or
similar in sediment loads or whatever it might be. JAMES GLEDHILL: It’s not
going to be good for the water quality down there. It can’t improve it at all. But I think that’s why
restoration efforts are going to be so important, because
we want to bring back those ecosystem services that we
have that the oysters provide.

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