Larval oysters, shown here by the score, are not usually green, but researchers at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama, US, are discovering that staining them with a harmless fluorescent dye called calcein is a very good way to understand how and where the molluscs eventually settle down.
As babies, oysters (Crassostrea virginica) are free-floating, and can be carried significant distances by wind and water currents. Mapping these journeys, using easy-to-see bright green larvae, yields valuable information that can later be applied in both commercial farming and conservation projects.
“By knowing where larvae originate and where they end up, we can determine what locations are better for oyster populations and provide managers with information to select sites for oyster restoration,” says team leader Haley Gancel.
The research is published in the journal Estuaries and Coasts.