The Olympia oyster (Ostrea lurida) at risk for local extinction: addressing climate change impacts

The Olympia oyster is native to San Francisco Bay (Ostrea lurida Carpenter 1864) (Barrett 1963). Their habitat ranges from Sitka, Alaska to Baja, California (Dall 1914). Historically, the Olympia oyster was abundant throughout the Pacific Northwest. However, their population has declined over the last few centuries due to anthropogenic influences, urbanization, and erosion (Groth and Rumrill 2009; McGraw 2009) Native Americans, pioneers, and gold miners consumed Olympia oysters which reduced the population. Remnants of native oyster shell middens around the Bay are evidence of the abundance prior to Spanish settlement. (Groth and Rumrill 2009; Coastal Conservancy and NOAA 2010). Over-harvesting reduced the oyster population and provided an opportunity to bring in non-native oysters due to the demand for oyster meat. Approximately 150 tons of oyster meat was processed (15% of the total oyster harvest represented the native oyster) during the height of the oyster industry which was from the late 1880s until 1904. (Barrett 1963). The resulting demand provided an opportunity to introduce the non-native Atlantic oyster in the San Francisco Bay, which further reduced the population of the native Olympia oyster as the nonnative Atlantic oyster was more significant in size and competed for space (Barrett 1963). Nonnative species of oysters such as the Eastern oyster from 1869-1940 and Pacific oysters from 1928-1950 were introduced into the San Francisco Bay. Ship ballasts brought in non-native species and fouling species (Ruiz et al. 2011), which preyed on the native oyster. However, the native oyster continues to live in the San Francisco Bay.

MoraRogers, N., 2020. The Olympia oyster (Ostrea lurida) at risk for local extinction: addressing climate change impacts. MSc thesis, The University of San Francisco, p63. Thesis.

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