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New Native Oyster Nursery in Belfast Harbour Shows Promising Results

19th December 2023
Dr Rachel Millar and Dr David Smyth of Ulster Wildlife with Belfast Harbour’s Simon Gibson at the new native oyster nursery at City Quays
Dr Rachel Millar and Dr David Smyth of Ulster Wildlife with Belfast Harbour’s Simon Gibson at the new native oyster nursery at City Quays Credit: Ulster Wildlife

A shellfish nursery recently installed in Belfast Harbour in an effort to revive the Northern Ireland capital’s native oysters is already showing promising results.

Last month, hundreds of oysters were lowered into the water at City Quays for the project, a joint initiative of Belfast Harbour and Ulster Wildlife following similar successful schemes in Bangor and Glenarm, as the News Letter reports.

Simon Gibson, of Belfast Harbour said the new nursery — which returns native oysters to the area after a century’s absense — “is the first in Northern Ireland in a commercial shipping channel”.

With the proper care, these oysters will grow together to form a reef — which is already in the early stages, as Ulster Wildlife’s Dr David Smyth told RTÉ News.

“Imagine 100,000 of these all stuck together; this is what we are after. From them, millions of larvae will settle around the shore and on the seabed,” he said.

The reef will also provide a habitat for a variety of other marine species, making a positive impact on marine biodiversity in the area.

The oysters will also contribute to improved water quality in the port, due to their unique ability to reduce water pollution and improve water clarity.

According to Ulster Wildlife, one native oyster can filter up to 200 litres of water per day, which is the equivalent of a bathtub.

RTÉ News has more on the story HERE. Team

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Marine Wildlife Around Ireland One of the greatest memories of any day spent boating around the Irish coast is an encounter with marine wildlife.  It's a thrill for young and old to witness seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales right there in their own habitat. As boaters fortunate enough to have experienced it will testify even spotting a distant dorsal fin can be the highlight of any day afloat.  Was that a porpoise? Was it a whale? No matter how brief the glimpse it's a privilege to share the seas with Irish marine wildlife.

Thanks to the location of our beautiful little island, perched in the North Atlantic Ocean there appears to be no shortage of marine life to observe.

From whales to dolphins, seals, sharks and other ocean animals this page documents the most interesting accounts of marine wildlife around our shores. We're keen to receive your observations, your photos, links and youtube clips.

Boaters have a unique perspective and all those who go afloat, from inshore kayaking to offshore yacht racing that what they encounter can be of real value to specialist organisations such as the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) who compile a list of sightings and strandings. The IWDG knowledge base has increased over the past 21 years thanks in part at least to the observations of sailors, anglers, kayakers and boaters.

Thanks to the IWDG work we now know we share the seas with dozens of species who also call Ireland home. Here's the current list: Atlantic white-sided dolphin, beluga whale, blue whale, bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, Cuvier's beaked whale, false killer whale, fin whale, Gervais' beaked whale, harbour porpoise, humpback whale, killer whale, minke whale, northern bottlenose whale, northern right whale, pilot whale, pygmy sperm whale, Risso's dolphin, sei whale, Sowerby's beaked whale, sperm whale, striped dolphin, True's beaked whale and white-beaked dolphin.

But as impressive as the species list is the IWDG believe there are still gaps in our knowledge. Next time you are out on the ocean waves keep a sharp look out!