New biosensors will help farmers to better understand and manage important aquaculture species like Pacific oysters
Biosensors for oysters
CSIRO researchers are working with oyster farmers to develop biosensors that will help to monitor the health of farmed oysters by measuring heart rate and other physiological indicators. These measures will inform farm management decisions to yield the highest quality oysters.
26 June 2013 | Updated 5 September 2013
Researchers working on the Sense-T aquaculture biosensor project, a joint project between the University of Tasmania and CSIRO, have developed a sensor that can be used on farmed oysters to monitor important physiological factors that impact the health of the oyster.
Working closely with farmers, they are forming an understanding of how oysters respond to a variety of environmental factors, to help ensure a productive and sustainable industry.
The sensors, which are smaller than the size of a pea, will be attached to 'sentinel' oysters in the field, to monitor their health in real-time.
Sensors for oysters
Postdoctoral research fellow Dr Sarah Andrewartha says that the sensors, which are smaller than the size of a pea, will be attached to 'sentinel' oysters in the field, to monitor their health in real-time.
"We’re also bringing animals back into the lab where we can simulate a whole lot of different environmental situations," said Dr Andrewartha.
"We can put animals into higher or lower temperatures, or change the salinity of the water they are in, so that when we put these animals out into the field alongside the farmer’s animals, we can understand what that information means."
The sensors will enable long-term monitoring of a range of variables that impact animal health and productivity including heart rate, temperature, shell gape, water depth and light level.
Sense-T and aquaculture
The sensors on the sentinel oysters in Tasmania will also be incorporated into the state-wide Sense-T network which will simultaneously monitor microclimate data such as temperature, light levels, salinity and dissolved oxygen.
This important animal health and environmental data from the field will keep farmers informed of the current conditions and the health of the oysters which will help them make real-time decisions on the best farming practices.
Over time, researchers will be developing specific biosensors for other species including abalone and Atlantic salmon, which will provide further support to Australia’s aquaculture industry.
Read more about our work in Protecting the future of Aussie aquaculture farming through new sensor technology.