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NCCOS Research Project

Oyster Marking Methodology Study

Region(s) of Study: Waterbodies / Chesapeake Bay
Primary Contact(s): jason.spires@noaa.gov
This project began in May 2016 and is Ongoing

We are developing methods to imprint oysters with a non-toxic fluorochrome dye to give scientists, aquaculturists, health officials, and enforcement agencies the ability to positively re-identify marked oysters.

Why We Care
The Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) is a critical component of the Atlantic coastal ecosystem: they improve water clarity by filtering sediment and phytoplankton, they provide habitat for fish and invertebrates, and historically they have provided a valuable commercial fishery. In the Chesapeake Bay, oysters are currently the target of large-scale restoration efforts, an emerging aquaculture industry, and an ongoing open fishery. New tools are needed by industry stakeholders, scientists, and resource managers to better assess the impacts of oyster enhancement activities. Methodologies for marking and tagging fish have been investigated and deployed for decades to assess fisheries management stock assessment objectives in a variety of freshwater and marine species. This project seeks to develop an oyster marking tool that researchers and managers could apply in this evolving field.

What We Are Doing
We are imprinting and raising juvenile (spat) and adult oysters with a non-toxic fluorochrome dye, identifying marked oysters with the use of a hand-held fluorescent detection device, and developing methods for creating multiple markings on juvenile and adult oysters.

Next Steps
We have successfully marked and re-identified juvenile and adult oysters. Next, we will monitor growth, mortality, and mark retention for three years.

Additional Resources

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NCCOS delivers ecosystem science solutions for stewardship of the nation’s ocean and coastal resources, in direct support of NOS priorities, offices, and customers, and to sustain thriving coastal communities and economies.

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