Native Olympia oysters have a built-in resistance to ocean acidification, according to a newly published study in the Journal of Limnology and Oceanography.

Scientists think the ability of Olympia oysters to withstand ocean acidification, could be bred into the Pacific oysters preferred by farmers.

Scientists think the ability of Olympia oysters to withstand ocean acidification, could be bred into the Pacific oysters preferred by farmers.

George Waldbusser/Oregon State University

Native Olympia oysters are smaller than the larger, faster-growing Pacific oysters preferred by farmers.

But a study by Oregon State University professor George Waldbusser has found Olympia oysters make their shells much more slowly. And that helps protect them from acidic water, “Having that trait identified might give opportunity to actually breed that trait into some of the other commercial species,” he said.

“But it also provides some hope that not everything is going to perish in an acidified ocean,” said Waldbusser.

Olympia oysters used to grow from Baja California to Vancouver Island. But during the 1890s, they were harvested until 90 percent had disappeared.

They’re now found sparingly in Yaquina, Netarts and Coos Bays.