HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A unique project to improve the water quality in the Pearl Harbor estuary relies on one of nature’s most efficient water filters: Oysters.
The Navy, Oahu Waterkeeper and scientists at the University of Hawaii have joined forces to farm the oysters in the harbor. They’re using two native varieties of oysters: The Hawaiian oyster and the black-lip pearl oyster.
Native oysters were once abundant in Pearl Harbor, and researchers hope the project to bring the oysters back could help clean up the waterway.
Worth noting: Non-native species of oysters do thrive in Pearl Harbor already, and there’s hope that they can also be used as part of the project.
Native oysters filter between 20 and 45 gallons of water per day, removing harmful pollutants including sediment, bacteria, heavy metals, PCBs, oil, microplastics, sunscreen chemicals and nutrients from the water column.
Project officials stress that the oysters being used as part of the project are not safe to eat.
The Pearl Harbor oyster project is modeled after successful initiatives elsewhere, including in New York Harbor.