Activities over the last twelve months are contributing to the success of Operation Oyster, BSAC’s long-term environmental project.
Operation Oyster is a long-term project that can run alongside any branch dive. Native oysters used to be prevalent around large sections of UK and European waters and with restoration projects underway members are encouraged to keep an eye open for them, particularly for juveniles on wrecks and reefs near restoration sites.
During 2023 the focus was to help trial the BSAC/Seawilding Underwater Surveyor course due for release in Q1 2024.
Andy Hunt, BSAC Expedition Officer and project lead attended The Native Oyster Restoration Alliance (NORA) conference in The Netherlands in November, where he delivered a poster presentation. It was a great opportunity to show case BSAC’s contribution and increasing capability through the forthcoming Underwater Surveyor course.
There were a total of about 180 delegates comprising many marine biologists from academia and industry but also historians and owners of commercial oyster hatcheries, engineers from offshore wind companies and politicians.
Many people involved in this area of work don’t dive or don’t dive as much as they would like to, so having videos and pictures from divers does grab the audience’s attention.
The conference was also an opportunity to catch up with some of the project partners face to face: Eric Harris-Scott from Blue Marine Foundation, Dr Jo Preston from University of Portsmouth – and Celine Gamble from ZSL. Andy continued:
If you are in the game of restoring the seabed with native oysters (as BSAC Operation Oyster is) then this the place to be and as we are working towards the seabed restoration phase of the project, those native oyster community contacts are so valuable to help figure out the plan!
What’s coming up in 2024
For 2024 there are oyster diving restoration projects planned for Loch Craignish and the Solent. There are places left on a forthcoming expedition to SW Mull to investigate remnant species. Divers under 25 years of age will get a 50% discount.
Keep an eye out for other Operation Oyster expeditions planned for the Solent area later in the year.