Adult oysters filter about 50-gallons of water daily. After 10-years of study, scientists figured out a way to measure how much nitrogen an oyster removes from the water daily as it pumps it through its body. Nitrogen is a key cause of dead zones in marine ecosystems.
Daniel Harris of the University of Georgia Marine Extension Shellfish Lab says, oysters are considered a keystone species in Georgia.
"With more people there's more development and there's more pollution that's introduced to the water. So, as oysters are filter feeders, it's really important to have a healthy oyster population to help mitigate some of the pollution that were introducing," Harris said.
The Alabama researchers say, oysters filter pollution at very variable rates from one body of water to the next. They say, the study can be used to help Georgia oyster researchers ask similar questions here.