A team from Corsica University’s marine research institute Stella Mare is depositing the oysters into the sea with the aim of cleaning up the water. The project was initiated in the Corsican city Bastia last September and is now in the second of three phases, reports the site Reasons to Be Cheerful. Roughly 150,000 juvenile Ostrea edulis, commonly known as the European flat oyster, will be used to try to reduce the pollutants found in the waters near the port.
We wanted to see what pollution would be cleaned from the water and what would remain in the oysters’ shellsSylvia Agostini, lead of the project for Stella Mare
A single oyster filters 120 to 160 liters of water each day, removing harmful nutrient pollutants such as phosphorus, pesticides, pharmaceuticals and nitrogen from fertilizers, which are difficult to remove from water and can persist for decades if left alone. The process improves the clarity of the seas, controls algae and attracts other marine species. Normally, you can’t treat PCBs [an industrial chemical known as polychlorinated biphenyls]. But it’s proven to be a revolutionary method,” said Agostini.
Agostini and her team will conduct monthly checks and quarterly in-depth analyses of water samples for contaminants in Bastia’s port for three years. Leftover oyster shells will then be used as construction materials such as roof tiles, according to the site Reasons to Be Cheerful.
Coastal maintenance, water purification and the elimination of marine pollution are crucial to preserving ecosystems and the environment as a whole. Oysters are crucial animals for biodiversity within an estuary or coastline. Other species such as fish and algae depend heavily on them for their crucial role in the ecosystem. These bivalve mollusks not only manage to keep natural waterways clean but also ensure that people have a healthy environment.
In 2015, the U.S. launched several oyster restoration projects to increase the population and clean up the country’s local waters. Projects such as ‘New York’s Billion Oyster Project’, ‘Massachusetts Oyster Project’ and ‘South Carolina Oyster Restoration and Enhancement’ are dedicated to the cause. They aim to distribute one billion live oysters by 2035 — enough to filter the entire harbor every three days.
One project in the U.K. found 95 different species growing on reefs after oysters had been introduced, including European eels, which are classified by the IUCN as critically endangered, the site Reasons to Be Cheerful reported.
According to the EPA, 55% of U.S. waterways are polluted, seriously threatening the nation’s drinking water supply. According to UNESCO, the most common global problem with respect to water quality is eutrophication, the result of large amounts of nutrients (mainly phosphorus and nitrogen), which significantly impairs the beneficial uses of water. According to a UN report on World Water Day on March 22, about 80% of the planet’s wastewater is discharged into the environment without having received any treatment.
This wastewater returns to the ecosystem and is discharged untreated. In rich countries, 70% of water is treated, a figure that falls to 38% in upper-middle-income countries and drops to 28% in lower-middle-income countries. In poor countries, only 8% receive any treatment at all.
Africa, Asia and Latin America have the worst public health and environmental conditions. Water scarcity, damaged infrastructures and institutional mismanagement mean that the least developed countries are unable to achieve minimum sanitation conditions.
Today, 1.8 billion people consume water from contaminated sources, rivers, wells or springs. Unsafe water and poor sanitation and hygiene cause around 842,000 deaths per year worldwide.