(This post is part of our blog series that deals with Pearls International’s take on social and environmental responsibility. For more information on how Pearls International gives back, please click here.)
Many of the predators we’ve talked about in this series so far have been known to effect oyster farms and wild oysters much more severely than they do oysters in the protective facilities of pearl farms. This weeks offender is one that even pearl farmers can’t escape, and struggle to protect their stock from.
Any organism that lives on the surface of any other living organism, including but not limited to barnacles, is an epibiont. Barnacles, while they appear harmless (and are harmless to many organisms) can damage oyster populations. Excessive barnacle growth on the shell of an oyster can prohibit that oyster from growing and developing properly. If the barnacles grow where the oyster’s shell opens, it can prevent the oyster from opening it’s shell to feed and breathe. Barnacle growth can also cause permanent damage to the shell, causing it to grow lopsided. This is especially detrimental in the pearling business, because a healthy oyster that grows at a consistent rate is key in producing pearls of the best quality.
Since barnacles can attach to anything, including ships, piers and rocks, we wish they would be more considerate about attaching to oysters. Therefore, Number Six (#6) on our Ten Most Wanted List goes to the Epibionts.
Stay tuned for more unbelievable oyster threats, leading up to the Number One (#1) enemy of our beloved oysters.