Image Credit: S. Chalker
Volunteer citizen scientists who take part in this exciting new project will receive formal training to gather information about the recruitment of oysters and other marine life on our new Sydney rock oyster intertidal reef. The data will help to assess the effectiveness and success of the restoration activity.
This monitoring will include sampling of the oyster reef bases to count and measure oysters, identification and counting of other invertebrates (e.g. snails), and recording of water quality data (such as the temperature and salinity).
Citizen scientists may also get involved in shorebird observations on the new oyster reefs and assist in gathering data to monitor saltmarsh restoration, as part of the greater Wagonga Inlet Living Shoreline project.
Natural oyster reefs were once abundant in many NSW estuaries. Historically, large beds of Sydney rock oysters and native flat oysters were a dominant feature in several south coast systems, but over many decades have been largely lost due to historical over harvesting and habitat degradation. Natural oyster reefs provide structural habitat for many native recreational fish species, such as flathead.
Oyster reefs also fulfill important ecosystem services that enhance the health of the marine environment; they protect shorelines from erosion by buffering wave energy, particularly during storms, and improve local water quality and clarity. This helps to support other important marine habitats such as saltmarsh and seagrass and provide increased resilience against the impacts of climate change on our coastline.