Is there anything cuter than baby oysters!
One fine spring morning, some members of the Richmond River Chapter cruised over to their local oyster lease to inspect the lease to find a single catching rack filled with tiny oysters.
The recreational fishers got excited as they collected the little gems for further inspection. These fishers are on the brink of a scientific discovery that could resurrect the oyster population in what has been dubbed by some as the ‘worst river in New South Wales’.
So, why is the presence of baby oysters on a lease so exciting for these fishers?
Well, forty-five years ago, full-cycle (spat to harvest) oyster farming ceased on the Richmond. Various changes to the Richmond catchment has resulted in poor water quality which triggered the problematic QX disease in local oyster populations.
The Richmond River Chapter started their research back in 2015, with their monitoring records showing an almost total disappearance of the estuary’s Sydney Rock Oyster (S. glomerata). But the team noticed a new oyster becoming more and more conspicuous among graveyards of dead Sydney Rock Oysters, which gave them hope.
From a small sample of mystery adult oysters surviving, darker in colour to the Sydney Rock Oyster, we now have an entire rack, teeming with brand new little juveniles.
Affectionately nicknamed the ‘Richmond River Oyster‘ or OzFish Rock Oyster are now on track to researching what could be recognized as a new species of oyster that does not only survive the changed conditions of the Richmond but is showing signs of thriving to restore shellfish reef populations in the area.
It typically takes an Oyster between 18-24 months to grow to ‘market size’, so these guys have a bit of growing to do yet. There is just something assuring about seeing baby marine life grow in your local waterway. Check out these awesome photos that the Richmond River Chapter captured while out on the water! Let’s just appreciate it for what it is.
To learn more about shellfish or get involved in one of our projects, check out what OzFish are doing in this space!