Greenshell mussels returned to Sounds sites

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Greenshell mussels returned to Sounds sites

One News reporter Kaitlin Ruddock interviews PhD student Emilee Benjamin in Pelorus Sound

A project to restore wild greenshell mussel beds in the Marlborough Sounds is seeing excellent results already.

Earlier this year, bags of mussels were deposited at five sites in Pelorus Sound by NIWA and Auckland University scientists, part of a project funded by the Sustainable Farming Fund, the Marine Farming Association and member companies, notably Aroma.

Auckland University PhD student Emilee Benjamin says after just one month the four tonnes of transplanted mussels have shown very high initial survival rates of 97% to 100% at all five sites.

“These results suggest that our mussel translocation methods work superbly, with much better mussel survival rates than other restoration efforts such as in the Hauraki Gulf. This is an excellent starting result for our local restoration project.”

Emilee says 11-arm starfish, a voracious predator of mussel beds, arrived shortly after placement on the seafloor. “Our divers are counting and removing the starfish so we can understand how important reinvasion by these predators is to maintaining the mussel beds in the longer term.”

The scientific team is using underwater drones to capture three dimensional images of the mussel beds to see if it provides a more efficient way to monitor mussels, rather than using divers. The 3D images from are being compared with results from divers to test their usefulness for measuring mussel densities, survival and counting predators.

For further information on the project, please email Emilee Benjamin at:egol669@aucklanduni.ac.nz