Student Research Projects
The impact of using native or non-native oysters to restore the Chesapeake Bay
The Chesapeake Bay receives excessive nutrients and sediment runoff, which leads to eutrophication and creates many ecological problems. Oysters in the Chesapeake Bay naturally filter particulate pollutents and nutrients from the water column, however with overfishing and disease (Perkinisis marinius and MSX), the native oyster Crassostrea virginica population is much lower than historical records. With such a low population, their work as ecologic engineers and filtering the water is not enough overcome the amount of pollution added each day. For nearly two decades, people have been studying the non-native asian oyster Crassostrea ariakensis as the potential specie to introduce into the bay. C. ariakensis has similar environmental needs and roles as C. virginica. Also, it is more resistant to the diseases that eradicates many of the native oysters; however, with the introduction of a non-native species of oysters, new viruses and diseases found in the C. ariakensis would be introduced into the Chesapeake Bay. Such an impact would be irreversible and is a major threat to other organisms, the health of the bay, and the safety of the people.