High school students from Westhill High School came to SoundWaters today to begin their oyster project. Students began their study of oysters through a dissection and study of the anatomy of oysters. Using microscopes, students were able to observe the beating heart of the oyster as well as the gills, mantle and tentacles which allow the oyster to sense the world around it.
Under the supervision of the SoundWaters educators and Mr. Perry, Westhill HS Marine Science teacher, students built a stand to place in their established tanks at the school. Mr. Perry remarked, “Most of these kids have never done this or used this equipment in their lives.” These stands will be used to grow oysters: when oysters reproduce, they spawn tiny larvae that move around the water column until they find a suitable structure and habitat to settle on. Once the larvae are permanently attached to a surface, they are referred to as spat. This is the stage the students will be growing their oysters from. These oysters will ultimately be placed in the Long Island Sound.
Students also studied water quality and how it will relate to their project. It is very important that the water quality of these tanks is monitored very closely. Oysters are filter feeders by nature and rely on the supply of plankton in the water to survive. Being filter feeders requires them to pull water over their gills and filter out particles from the water column. One adult oyster can filter 60 gallons of water per day. This makes water quality a very important parameter for their success.
The exciting three-year project includes real world study with Stella Mar Oysters and is funded by the NOAA B-Wet federal grant program. Keep an eye out for more updates on the project.