Pint-sized with razor-sharp edges, Olympia oysters once flourished along Oregon’s rugged coast. Millions of them formed extensive beds that blanketed the tidal zones of places like Coos Bay and Yaquina bays, where they provided food and income for people and habitat for wildlife. In recent years, over-harvesting, development, sedimentation, pollution, dredging, and forest fires have all played a role in the dramatic decline of this native shellfish that, in many places, has become locally extinct. Bringing the “Oly” back is a priority for natural resource managers, scientists, shellfish farmers, and recreationists.
In response, the South Slough Reserve spearheaded a project to develop a science-based plan to restore Olympia oysters, which has been integrated into a state-wide shellfish initiative that will include additional research and restoration projects to help guide oyster recovery along Oregon’s coast.