How 5,000 oysters are cleaning Māʻalaea Bay

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Did you know oysters are nature’s most efficient water filters?

That’s according to Maui Nui Marine Resource Council. Because of that fun fact, they are now using thousands of oysters to clean and filter their ocean water.

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“Right now, we have about 5,000 oysters, and they are in little cages to protect them, and they live in the harbor, and we take care of them and monitor them every couple of weeks,” said Amy Hodges with Maui Nui Marine Resource Council. “Each oyster in there at adult size can filter about 50 gallons of water a day.”

Amy Hodges, the Programs and Operation Manager for the nonprofit, said oysters eat by pumping large volumes of water through their bodies; in that process, they capture sediments and pollutants from the water column.

“We are utilizing oysters as nature’s filters, and so oysters are filter feeders, and this is a project that we learned from our water keepers,” said Hodges. 

According to Hodges, this program started in Oahu, but they successfully brought it to Maui.

Hodges said it’s been a fun, engaging project they were happy to take on.

“You know, ultimately, we would like it if the oysters didn’t have to do a job there for us if those sentiments and pollutants never reached the water. That’s the ultimate goal, but meanwhile, we do have the oysters there, and it’s a great project of interest for the community,” said Hodges. 

Hodges said the people who visit or live near the harbor, where these oysters are hard at work, really support the project.

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