Since 2012 Clallam MRC has participated in the Puget Sound wide effort to restore Olympia oyster habitats. The purpose of the effort is to restore the ecosystem services that dense beds of native oysters once provided by creating a structured habitat for a diverse community of organisms. The overall goal is to restore 100 acres of Olympia oyster beds by 2020.
Sequim Bay Restoration Efforts
In 2012 Clallam MRC partnered with the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe in an effort to restore Olympia oysters in Sequim Bay. Approximately 6,200 Olympia oyster seed in grow-out bags were planted on Jamestown’s Sequim Bay tidelands. The goal was to restore a 1.5-acre bed of self-sustaining Olympia oysters.
In 2013 seeded cultch bags with approximately 500,000 oysters were spread onto the tidelands and in 2014 seeded cultch bags with approximately 250,000 oysters were spread on to an additional half acre.
In 2015 several efforts were taken to improve spawning and settlement of larval as well as studying the distribution of newly settled oyster larvae. Spawning pools were constructed to trap and retain seawater on the outgoing tides and thereby provide an enhanced environment with warmer water and Pacific oyster shells as settling material for the Olympia oyster larvae. In addition, shell strings were used as settlement and recruitment tools. The larval connectivity study utilized the attribute that Olympia oysters brood their larval internally for a couple of weeks before releasing them as a way to track the settlement and distribution of Olympia oysters.
A survey conducted in August 2015 found that the Olympia oyster population had increased with about 2,000 oysters to an estimated 46,620 oysters and covered an estimated 0.67 acres. A similar survey conducted in August 2016 found that the oyster bed had increased to a size of approximately 0.74 acres with a population estimated at 55,770 individuals. The restoration effort will continue in the years to come and it has so far been successful with the Olympia oysters thriving on the Sequim Bay tidelands.
As part of the restoration effort Clallam MRC has funded oyster seed, an educational brochure about restoration of the Olympia oyster and a summer intern in 2014 and 2015.
Other Restoration Efforts
The successful restoration effort in the southern part of Sequim Bay has spurred Clallam MRC to look for other potential restoration sites in Sequim Bay.
One of these sites was Pitship Point adjacent to the John Wayne Marina. After reaching an agreement with the Port of Port Angeles and completed the permit process Olympia oysters were transported in August 2016 from the Blyn tidelands to create two small test plots at Pitship Point. Unfortunately, wave actions in the cove during the winter month dispersed the oysters up on the beach and the restoration efforts at the site were discontinued.
Currently, other sites are being investigated including the USFWS property at Dawley Road, Dungeness Farms and Paradise Cove.