Oyster Scientist Receives Conservation Research Award
Photo by Susie Fork
The Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve recently announced the winner of the 2023 Conservation Research Award: Jacob Harris, M.S., at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. Jacob received this award for his work in the lab and out in the field to enhance Olympia oyster restoration at Elkhorn Slough.
Olympia oysters have been in Elkhorn Slough for millennia, and were harvested all along the shores of the estuary by Native Americans. Now, they are at risk of becoming locally extinct due to loss of habitat from diking and organic mud resulting from excessive nutrients.
Jacob raised thousands of oysters in the hatchery, using them to restore oyster populations and conduct field experiments aimed at determining the optimal conditions to boost oyster growth and survival. He identified ideal tidal elevations, substrates, and oyster outplant sizes to enhance restoration success. He also conducted physiological studies that shed light on the challenges reproducing oysters face in the hatchery and in the wild.
Jacob was dedicated not only to oyster science, but also to the people who interact with oysters, from student interns to Tribal elders to members of the local community. He generously and thoughtfully conducted outreach to diverse community members, sparking joy about estuarine habitats and conservation.
Photo by Kiliii Yuyan