In the tidal flats surrounding China Camp’s historic shrimping village, Allie, a graduate student at San Francisco State University, focuses on a tiny Bay Area creature with a not-so-tiny-impact. It’s the Olympia oyster (Ostrea lurida), a marine bivalve that plays an important role in maintaining the health of tidal wetland ecosystems in the West.
Though current populations of this native oyster species are greatly reduced from their historic numbers in the Bay Area, Olympia oysters still play an important role in naturally filtering our bay’s water. Native oyster beds can also help protect against erosion from rising tides, a serious concern in the face of climate change.
On her semi-regular trips to the park, Allie visits oyster monitoring sites at Rat Rock Island and Bullhead Flats. Using specialized equipment, Allie tracks the health and productivity of China Camp’s native oyster populations. This data can help us understand the oyster’s responses to climate-driven impacts, such as changes in rainfall and water temperatures. Allie’s important findings collected at China Camp and other sites can help direct future restoration projects throughout the San Francisco Bay.