Seawilding is a Scottish charity based in Loch Craignish in Argyll. They are pioneering community-led native oyster and seagrass restoration projects. This project, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, is to grow and reintroduce up to 1 million native oysters to Loch Craignish.
Loch Craignish once supported a large population of native oysters but owing to human predation, all but a few have gone. Seawilding grow the oysters in a nursery, a series of floating cages, until they are big enough to be released to the sea floor and survive a degree of predation from starfish and crabs. In the winter of 2022, the nursery was expanded 3-fold in order to meet their 1 million commitment and also to provide oyster stock to other restoration projects around the UK. So far (June 2023) they have deposited 300,000 into the Loch.
Seawilding conducts extensive baseline surveys around the Loch, searching for the best release sites which have good substrate, shelter, and depth. Then, at a low spring tide, together with community volunteers they broadcast them by hand into the shallows. Some community volunteers have been trained by Seawilding in baseline surveying, coastal biodiversity surveying and native oyster restoration so they help monitor developments at certain times of the year, recording their findings and contributing significantly to the collection of data.
Seawilding’s partner, Heart of Argyll Wildlife Association, works with children from 7 different primary schools in Argyll, bringing them to visit Seawilding’s ‘oyster hoisters’ where they can measure oyster growth, record biodiversity, and learn about marine life.