NETARTS, Ore. -- It was such a delicacy, Oregon's only native oyster was harvested to near extinction more than a century ago.
But after years of hard work, the Olympia oyster is once again thriving off the coast. The recovery took eight years, but today Netarts Bay is once again home to as many as five million Olympia oysters.
A small oyster that, decades ago, was the premier oyster in the Pacific Northwest.
The recovery project was led by the Nature Conservancy. The group partnered with the Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery near Tillamook, which raised the baby Olympia oysters.
The young oysters were then brought to Netarts Bay where they grew and thrived. What began as just few has turned into an native oyster explosion.
“These Olympia oysters are very tasty they have a very unique flavor which is a good flavor and people are wanting to buy them ... there is now a small budding industry of the Olympia oyster and it’s showing up on some dinner plates in the Northwest,” said Dick Vander Schaaf, the Conservancy in Oregon’s associate director of coast and marine conservation.
The native oysters are also a natural filter fish. They clean the water as well as help provide critical habitat for salmon.
The Nature Conservancy says this entire restoration project cost about $150,000. Most of the work was done by volunteers.