Scottish researchers track currents for new insights into oyster farming

The increased mussel production is part of the Scottish Food and Drink Industry’s ambition to double food production in Scotland by 2030.

So researchers in Scotland investigated how mussel larvae move in order to give other mussel and oyster farmers important insights into where and how to grow them.

Discovery: It’s all about the current.

The University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture has used genetic testing of mussels at sample sites along the west coast of Scotland combined with mathematical modeling to understand where the mussels grow well.


Research in this area has been restricted to date, according to PhD researcher Anna Koroshanu-Friel. “Cultivating mussels was a kind of black box,”He said. “The larvae float in the water, we put the ropes in the sea and the larvae appear there. If the arrow goes down, we don’t know why. If the quality goes down, we don’t know why.”

The team discovered that mussel larvae move in currents from south to north. “We found that within 30 days, a cloud of caterpillars can travel from the Scottish border near Stranraer all the way to Islay [about 80 miles] for example. Then it sticks to the substrate – anything solid in water, it could be ropes – and grows for a year and a half until it begins to multiply. The next generation of larvae is carried upstream from Islay to the Upper Hebrides within 30 days – that’s much more, because the current is faster there. “

She added:Knowing where the mussels come from and where they go tells us a lot about the best and worst farm locations.”