Where do baby oysters go?

Where do baby oysters go?

The aim: more of these – a premium Nelson oyster. (Photo: Stephen Brown, NIWA)

Modelling the dispersal of oyster larvae, to predict distribution of newly settled larvae or ‘spat’, in Tasman Bay, is a new challenge for NIWA scientists. The ultimate aim: to boost dredge oyster productivity by increasing spat settlement.

“By linking one model which simulates ocean currents and particle transport in the ocean, with a second model which describes how oyster larvae behave – for example, where and when they are released, their swimming behaviour, and how they settle – we are building up a picture of larval movement from spawning to settlement,” says project leader, NIWA’s Stephen Brown.

“Results so far indicate that most larvae travel less than 1 km from their parents’ oyster beds, although some will travel up to 28 km before settling. We are testing the model using data provided by the oyster industry, and as we become more certain about the way the larvae travel and settle, we can provide advice on where best to enhance habitat to encourage settlement, hopefully leading to increased oyster productivity.”

Research subject: Coasts