In an effort to clean up polluted waterways in New Jersey, researchers are turning to an uncommon animal: oysters!

Water invertebrates such as clams, mussels and oysters are filter feeders, and are excellent at filtering dirty water. Check out this link to see a time-lapse video of oysters cleaning a tank of dirty water in only a couple of hours. The concept for pollution clean-up is the same – oysters in metal cages or partial concrete balls would be placed into polluted areas in an effort to filter out the pollutants that are causing problems for humans.

There are some concerns that poachers might take advantage of strategically placed oyster colonies and try to harvest them to sell for food. It’s definitely not a good idea to have humans consume these pollutant-filtering oysters, and if that happened, it could damage New Jersey’s shellfish industry. Read about problems caused by sea otters consuming toxin-filled clams here. Arguments go back and forth as to how susceptible these oyster colonies would be to poachers, and it’s definitely a legitimate concern.

But poaching aside, the establishment of oyster colonies for water clean-up seems like an interesting move. What are your thoughts? Read more about it here.

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