Using Oysters to Measure Oil Impact

For the scientifically curious the SF Chron has an interesting piece on Monday, Nov 29 (not available online until 4 a.m Wendesday, Dec 1. unless you are a print subscriber.)

All bivalves (oysters, clams, quahogs etc.) grow their calcium-carbonate shells in yearly increments, creating tree-ring like growth marks.  Embedded in each year’s addition are traces of the elements in the bivalve environment that year — including any heavy metals such as vanadium, lead and barium — all constituents of oil.  Thus, measuring oyster rings from the same spot, over several years is a very good indicator of the health of that area.  Brilliant.

The work began when the “Cosco Busan” spewed oil into the San Francisco Bay in 2007.  Now it will be used in the far more serious spill in the Gulf.