Colloquium Discusses Importance of Oysters


By Danielle Fullerton

Last Wednesday, Feb. 19, I attended the Natural Science and Mathematics Colloquium hosted Dr. Loren Coen from Florida Atlantic University to speak about reef-forming oysters, their biology, ecosystem service, and related restoration.  I was excited to learn more about restoration efforts and new research in the field.

In his presentation, Dr. Coen enabled non-biology students to be able to understand oysters and their importance to the ecosystem. Dr. Coen stressed that in the U.S. alone, oyster reef area has decreased 64 percent and the biomass has decreased 88 percent over 30 years.  He pointed to the causes of this drastic decline to be overharvesting, low-dissolved oxygen, pollution, disease, and introduced and invasive organisms.

He also explained that oysters are very important filter feeders and can filter up to 2.5 gallons of water per hour.  This can lead to controlling HAB blooms. Oysters can also remove silt and incorporate nutrients, and improve water clarity and quality.  The ecosystem services are vast and range from supporting, regulating, and cultural uses.  By this point in the presentation, I was ready to learn how I can help and what the restoration efforts were. However, when I looked at the clocked, it ticked dangerously close to 6p.m.

Running out of time, Dr. Coen rushed through the restoration research, which could enable students to get involved with these efforts. The Chesapeake Bay is the backyard to St. Mary’s and means so much to the students here. I couldn’t help but to think that this information can lead to more viable conversations about oysters and restoration.

The Natural Science and Mathematics Colloquiums are important for furthering one’s education and finding a real-world example of what one may have learned in the classroom.  I recently attended a colloquium on Cephalopods by Dr. Nathan Tublitz. Similarly to Dr. Coen, he was able speak to a wide range of audiences, with no biology or cephalopod background, about these interesting creatures, with videos and understandable language.

This colloquium is an example of a success in the Natural Science and Mathematics Colloquium series because it enlightened and enhanced the interest in such a misunderstood group of organisms.