Oyster Shell ‘Safe Houses’ Offer Sanctuary For Baby Fish on Developed Shores

Source: Hakai Magazine/Amorina Kingdon - September 22, 2017 in Science/Tech

Oyster Shell ‘Safe Houses’ Offer Sanctuary For Baby Fish on Developed Shores
Photo: Myrabella/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0

France’s Mediterranean coast is known for its glamorous beaches, but when Gilles Lecaillon was studying coastal fish there in 2011, the beaches were the last places on his mind. “Each time I go to a new place, the place I go first is the harbor,” Lecaillon says, “because that’s the place you can see baby fish.” Coastal species such as sea bream, bass, and damselfish spawn near the shore and spend their early lives sheltering in nooks and crannies, only heading out to deeper water as adults.

Lecaillon, now CEO of the French NGO Ecocean, was then working for a government-funded initiative rescuing larval and juvenile fish from areas where development had erased their natural hiding places, and then raising the fish to adulthood in a lab onshore before releasing them back into the ocean. France’s coast has several major ports, 150 marinas, and countless towns that replaced much of the nursery habitat with smooth, hard surfaces. As Lecaillon worked, he wondered if instead of moving the fish out, he could move habitat back in.

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