Protecting the Sensitive Oyster

October 20, 2020

LSU researchers are helping to protect what some call “the canary in the ocean” since it often is the first victim of environmental change—the luscious and delicate oyster. Gathering experts from a multitude of disciplines (biologists and ecologists, engineers and entrepreneurs, filmmakers and folklorists, historians and medical doctors), LSU is working to secure a productive future for both oysters and the oyster industry.

With support from NASA, LSU researchers are using artificial intelligence to make raw oysters from the Gulf of Mexico safer to eat. They are also working to keep oyster populations sustainable despite changes in the water, including temperature and salinity; raising stock for coastal restoration projects by farming oysters on land; helping local businesses turn oysters too tiny to sell as-is into new products; and documenting the sea-level citizens, who over generations have built an $84 million industry with their bare hands and a boat, as true experts on resiliency.

LSU oyster researchers

A not-so-dirty dozen of LSU oyster researchers (clockwise from the lemon): Carolyn Ware (English), Crystal Johnson (Environmental Sciences), Morgan Kelly (Biological Sciences), Brian Callam (Louisiana Sea Grant Oyster Research Lab), Zack Godshall (English), Megan La Peyre (Renewable Natural Resources), Jerome La Peyre (Animal Sciences), Dr. James Diaz (Public Health, Medicine), Don Davis (Louisiana Sea Grant), Michael Pasquier (Religious Studies, History), Zhiqiang Deng (Civil and Environmental Engineering), James Catano (English), and Steve Pollock (LSU Innovation Park).

– Elsa Hahne / LSU

“The oyster is part of the fabric of Louisiana. It is one of the most important species in our estuary, providing critical habitat to other marine life, and helping to clean the water through its filter-feeding activities. The applied research occurring at the Oyster Research Laboratory on Grand Isle shows LSU’s long-standing dedication to the sustainability and advancement of the Louisiana oyster resource and the largest commercial oyster industry in the United States.”

- Patrick D. Banks, Assistant Secretary at the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries