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Oyster Reefs are Dying

by admin on July 18th, 2010

John Tesvich, chairman of the Louisiana Oyster Task Force has expressed concern over the reports coming in about large scale oyster deaths on reefs east of the Mississippi river. He points out that much of the seed stock for the vast Louisiana oyster industry comes from those reefs and that they can take many years to make a comeback. Patrick Banks, oyster manager for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, whose studies first confirmed the deaths, blamed most of the damage not on the oil spill directly, but on the opening of water diversion gates along the Mississippi, that allow huge amounts of water to flow into the marshes and wetlands to the east of the river. Oysters require a certain amount of salinity to survive and the freshwater is what has caused most of the kill. The other choice would have been to do nothing and allow the oil to come ashore and that almost certainly would have killed the oysters as well. The freshwater flowing through the wetlands and out into the Gulf of Mexico has kept most of the oil further out to sea, thus helping other species while the oysters closest to the diversion sites suffer. Mr Banks says testing on reefs to the west of the river are not yet complete, but are not promising.

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