WA Oyster Farmers Sacrifice Pesticide, Still Losing Ground to Shrimp

WILLAPA BAY — As an oyster farmer of more than 40 years, Dick Wilson knows well the havoc that burrowing shrimp can cause in oyster beds.

Wilson, a former geology professor and the owner of Bay Center Mariculture Co., has thoroughly documented the shrimp’s effect on the mudflats in photo and research albums online.

Between conference calls and lunch last week, Wilson scrolled through his photos of Willapa Bay’s soupy, pockmarked mudflats. Nothing else can thrive on these shrimp-infested grounds, he explains, because the shrimp kill off the microscopic organisms that are integral to the food chain. Plus, their burrowing makes the ground so soft that oysters sink into the mud and suffocate.

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