Date of Award

Spring 2012

Document Type

Legacy Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Coastal Marine and Wetland Studies


Coastal and Marine Systems Science


College of Science

First Advisor

Keith R. Walters

Second Advisor

John J. Hutchens, Jr.

Third Advisor

Eric T. Koepfler

Additional Advisors

Erik M. Smith


Relative importance of larval settlement, survival, and growth to maintenance of oyster, Crassostrea virginica, and mussel populations, Geukensia demissa, inhabiting 'swashes' along the coastline of Myrtle Beach, SC were determined. Swashes typically are estuarine systems maintained by tidal creeks draining localized watersheds over mainland beaches during high tide. In December 2009, bivalves collected from a common field location (Hog Inlet, South Carolina) were placed in mesh cages within 3 swashes and 3 ocean-dominated inlet treatments along the Grand Strand, SC. The caged bivalves were monitored and then recollected in December 2010 and growth and survival of individuals were assessed. Differences were noted in the growth and survival of oysters and mussels over the one-year period based on location, but not treatment (i.e. swash or inlet). In May 2010, settlement samplers were placed at the same swash and inlet locations and the contribution of larval settlement and survival to oyster population dynamics assessed. It was found that there is significantly more oyster spat settlement in inlets than swashes. Food available in the water column for bivalves was determined by water samples which were collected 7 times throughout summer/fall 2010 and used to assess salinity and the amount of chlorophyll/pheophytin, there was significantly more chlorophyll a in the inlets but the swashes met the minimum requirement for bivalves. Results of this study provide critical information necessary to predict whether bivalve populations within swashes can be increased through oyster reef restoration in an attempt to address declining water quality in the area.