Welcome to Oyster Health Sydney!

This comes to you from the Aquatic Animal Health team in the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney. We hope you enjoy this site, the opportunity it provides to view our research, and the means it gives you to offer advice, comments and suggestions to assist our research program.

We believe that healthy oysters are central to a sustainable oyster industry, the coastal communities these businesses support, and to healthy estuaries. But how do you assess health, and what factors determine whether a healthy batch of oysters will remain healthy in the presence of disease threats? How does the environment affect the immune system of the oyster? How can oysters be managed to minimise the risk of losses due to infectious diseases? These are some of the questions we will try to answer in our multidisciplinary research program.

We work closely with oyster growers and benefit from their great insight about the best methods for oyster farming. This knowledge includes many traditional practices to avoid common diseases. Unfortunately the emergence of new diseases in the last few decades has changed the game and stimulated a search for new solutions. This is where science and research must step up to meet the challenge.

Australia currently faces a scourge due to Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS), which is used by a unique marine herpesvirus infection. This blog will be focussed for some time on the POMS need – please see the page “Our POMS research“. The principles we use in this research are common to most disease threats, and we will not forget other important problems. In New South Wales this means QX disease and winter mortality syndrome. Over time we hope to discover how they tick!

We publish new information about OsHV-1 in Australia in international scientific journals – please see the page “Scientific Publications”.

Despite research breakthroughs in husbandry of oysters, and progress in improved genetics (a commercial 70% resistant oyster will be available in 2018), it is currently impossible to restock a farm after an outbreak of POMS.  The oyster industries require ongoing research and development for new innovations and future prosperity, and at present this is crucial for POMS (OsHV-1). However, the outcomes from research can be hard to predict, and the time required to make breakthrough developments is never certain. This can cause confusion for industry in a time of crisis. Therefore the research  community produced a consensus statement on research progress – please see the page “POMS Information”. It describes the likely commercial outcomes and the time required for success in the genetic and husbandry research programs that are underway in Australia.

In January 2016 an outbreak of POMS began in Tasmania. The implications of this are very serious, due to loss of farmed oysters, and also because Tasmania is the source of Pacific oyster spat (baby oysters) for the rest of Australia. We have produced Fact Sheets that may be useful in the face of a POMS disease outbreak, to assist with farm disinfection, prevention of mortalities in hatcheries, and to help reduce losses and salvage value when an outbreak occurs on farm – please see the page “NEW: POMS Herpesvirus Fact Sheets”. We provide a link to the latest information from DPIWE Tasmania – please see the page “POMS links”.


Professor Richard Whittington

University of Sydney,

Camden, NSW Australia

Last updated: February 2016

12 responses to “Welcome

  1. Thank you for providing such a forum for Oyster Farmers and others to converse and share in a free environment, vital information and thoughts on the subject of POMS, QX and WM, a great idea.


  2. Appreciate your efforts in getting your research results into the public domain. Readers maybe interested in tracking current water quality in the Hawkesbury at http://mhl.nsw.gov.au/projects/berowra/latest.php
    and http://mhl.nsw.gov.au/projects/hscsal/ (websites are updated every 6hours).

    You are welcome to use this data to find an environemntal “POMS trigger” for either its absence or occurrence if appropriate.


  3. Great information tool guys! I will spread the word among oyster growers.
    Very ‘interesting’ results so far (from the ‘Our POMS research’ tab). I will explore best option of sharing the results from the Oyster Monitoring Program (data on growth and mortalities) currently undertaken at the Hawkesbury, Shoalhaven, Merimbula and Pambula.

  4. Hi Richard and Ika
    Dont know how you manage to get time to update the site with your workload at present. I hope that industry appreciates the effort that you have both put in gathering all the data as literally the @#*% hit the fan. If you had of waited and not gone on with your gut instincts industry would have missed out for another year in picking up the start of the POMS in Georges River. For that I would truely thank you both. You have been johnny on the spot. I am sure that the oyster industry will learn a lot from the data once you have the time to consolidate.


  5. Great communication tool, format and initiative on your behalf on this important issue. This should provide for great communication between all stakeholders which is a necessity in moving forward to achieve outcomes. As Ana indicated – we will be sure to align the Oyster Information Portal concept to feature initiatives like this one.
    Keep up the momentum.

  6. New gadget to look at the ‘happiness’ of the oysters based on the environmental conditions: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iT49Hfcl8-6l-p9X6sj-PYvda6QQ?docId=CNG.598626a4b87e150b6b89473d89e5a47e.851

  7. Some media on POMS from France ‘Herpes Virus Makes Oysters a Scarce Delicacy Over France’s Holiday Season’ : http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-12-21/herpes-virus-makes-oysters-a-scarce-delicacy-in-france-s-holiday-season.html
    Interesting citation ‘“You don’t see the same thing from oyster grower to the next,” the 37-year-old said. “It depends on the location.”
    – similar situation with the Georges trials, right?

  8. For your interest. Recent additions and upgrades to the Hawkebsury Probes include:
    1. Courangra Point probe redployed
    2. Rainfall data now displayed on the website
    View the latest data at: http://mhl.nsw.gov.au/projects/berowra/latest.php
    and http://mhl.nsw.gov.au/projects/hscsal/

  9. Great website to share infomation! Keep it up.

  10. Great format – Thanks for getting everything in the one place.

    I’ll send the link out to the Tassie and South Australian oyster industry.


    Ian Duthie
    Tasmanian Oyster Research Council

  11. Richard, good record keeping. We understand that as the salt water returns to the upper reaches after the significant rainfall of Australia day that closed the river to oyster harvesting, mortalities in the upper harvest areas where bigger oysters are present are now being recorded again. Hot weather over the last few days and forecast again to day will probably not assist in reducing this trend.

  12. Great work! I have read and interested with the scientific publications from your team recently, and got more details about your research from this website I found occasionally. It provided us much information about the POMS has occurred in Australia. I thought this information will be meaningful for our work in China.

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