QUILCENE — The Jefferson County Marine Resources Committee is seeking volunteers to monitor Olympia oyster populations as part of a nearshore restoration project.
The committee is in need of volunteers Friday to collect data on test plots set out last year and to collect baseline data on this year’s seed clutch in the state Department of Fish and Wildlife tidelands in Quilcene Bay, said Cheryl Lowe, marine resources committee (MRC) member, in a news release.
This is part of an almost 10-year project to restore Olympia oyster populations in Quilcene and Discovery bays. According to Lowe, Olympia oysters used to be a native population in both bays, but in Discovery Bay, the population has dwindled considerably and in Quilcene Bay, they no longer exist.
“Since Discovery Bay does have a small population, we’ve been trying to restore habitat,” Lowe said.
“In Quilcene Bay, we’re doing things a little different: We’re attempting to introduce farmed oysters since the population there is too small to grow on its own.”
In Quilcene Bay, the MRC has teamed up with Taylor Shellfish and state Fish and Wildlife in an attempt to bring back the Olympia oyster population.
According to Lowe, this will be the MRC’s third year working to grow new oyster populations in Quilcene Bay.
Volunteers don’t need any experience to participate in Friday’s data collection. Because space is limited, Lowe said volunteers should email her at [email protected] for the information they need to participate.
Volunteers will meet at 10 a.m. at the state Fish and Wildlife tidelands along Linger Longer Road in Quilcene and then head out to the tidelands to collect data.
This project started back in 2007 when — working with Fish and Wildlife, Beachwatchers and Shore Stewards — MRC members began monitoring the Olympia oyster population in Discovery Bay.
In 2016, MRC members decided to include Quilcene Bay and, with help from Fish and Wildlife and tribal biologists, established the first test plots of Olympia oysters.
These started with 11 bags of wild-seeded clutch donated by Taylor Shellfish and 50 bags donated by the Puget Sound Restoration Fund. The MRC plans to monitor these test plots every year with the help of volunteers.
Aside from volunteer work, the MRC also offers classes on how to identify and harvest oysters and clams next month at its “Digging for Dinner” event at Dosewallips State Park in Brinnon.
That event will kick off at 9 a.m. — or as soon as the tide is out — on June 9. Registration is open at the MRC website at www.jeffersonmrc.org.
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Cydney McFarland can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 55052, or at [email protected].