Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Extreme Weather Threatens Wild Gulf Coast Oysters

Climate
Extreme Weather Threatens Wild Gulf Coast Oysters
Along the northern shores of the Gulf of Mexico, oysters live in coastal estuaries where saltwater and freshwater meet and mix. Flickr / CC by 2.0

Along the northern shores of the Gulf of Mexico, oysters live in coastal estuaries where saltwater and freshwater meet and mix.


LaDon Swann of the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium says the shellfish require water that's salty, but not too salty.

"So it's kind of like Goldilocks. … You know, an oyster's really looking for that perfect location," he says. "When they find that water that's just right, that's where they make their home."

But climate change is throwing off that balance. When heavy rain falls, too much freshwater may flow from the Mississippi River into the oyster reefs.

"Oysters can survive that for a short period of time, but if it goes beyond just a few days, then it affects their health, and ultimately you see mass mortalities of oysters because of the freshwater inflow," Swann says.

On the other hand, when there's not enough rain, the water around oyster beds gets too salty. That allows saltwater predators – such as a snail called the oyster drill – to enter oyster habitat.

This snail can make a hole in the oyster's shell, suck it out, and digest it.

So Swann says as climate change causes precipitation extremes at both ends of the spectrum, wild Gulf Coast oysters may lose the "just right" Goldilocks zone they need to thrive.

Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.

By Liz Kimbrough

Six grassroots environmental activists will receive the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in a virtual ceremony this year. Dubbed the "Green Nobel Prize," this award is given annually to environmental heroes from each of the world's six inhabited continents.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Mount Ili Lewotolok spews ash during a volcanic eruption in Lembata, East Nusa Tenggara on November 29, 2020. Joy Christian / AFP / Getty Images

A large volcano in Indonesia erupted Sunday, sending a plume of smoke and ash miles into the air and forcing thousands of residents to evacuate the region.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Kaavan in Islamabad, Pakistan on Sept. 4, 2020. Arne Immanuel Bänsch / picture alliance via Getty Images

With help from music icon Cher, the "world's loneliest elephant" has found a new home and, hopefully, a new family.

Read More Show Less
Climate change is causing leaves to change color and fall earlier in the year. Pxfuel

By Philip James

As the days shorten and temperatures drop in the northern hemisphere, leaves begin to turn. We can enjoy glorious autumnal colors while the leaves are still on the trees and, later, kicking through a red, brown and gold carpet when out walking.

Read More Show Less
Kevin Russ / Moment / Getty Images

By Kang-Chun Cheng

Modoc County lies in the far northeast corner of California, and most of its 10,000 residents rely on cattle herding, logging, or government jobs for employment. Rodeos and 4-H programs fill most families' calendars; massive belt buckles, blue jeans, and cowboy hats are common attire. Modoc's niche brand of American individualism stems from a free-spirited cowboy culture that imbues the local ranching conflict with wild horses.

Read More Show Less