Spat of Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) were collected from Gamakman Bay, Korea, and raised in a spat hardening facility located in the low intertidal zone of the bay for a “hardening/stunting” period of 10 mo. Seasonal changes in growth, reproductive condition, and digestive tubule atrophy (DTA) of these “hardened/stunted” oysters were monitored for more than a year after transplanting to a suspended longline system in a grow-out area in the bay. After transplantation, the hardened/stunted oysters showed a logarithmic increase in shell size for the first 4 mo, from June to October, and growth remained stable from late fall to early spring. During the 12 mo of the grow-out, the shell size of the hardened/stunted oysters increased from 15.4–74.2 mm, and tissue weight increased from 0.49–12.85 g. Histological analysis revealed that gametogenesis of hardened/stunted oysters commenced as early as February when water temperature remained at 10°C, and spawning occurred from July to September when water temperature reached 25–27°C. DTA assessed from histological analysis was higher from September to February, when the chlorophyll a level in the bay was lower. These data suggest that seasonal fluctuations in water temperature and food availability in the water column are the 2 main environmental parameters governing reproduction and growth of oyster in Gamakman Bay, and DTA could be a useful biomarker for monitoring the nutritional condition of oysters.
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