NOAA's Marine Debris Blog

Keepin' the Sea Free of Debris!

“What on Earth?” ENTRY #002: Oyster tubes (by Brandi Sasaki, guest blogger)


Location Debris Found: Hawai’i & South Korea (photo above)

These pieces of marine debris (main photo) are found washed up on the shores of the main Hawaiian Islands and well as the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

Looking at this odd piece of marine debris you’re probably thinking “What on earth is it?” We are not 100% positive, but trustworthy sources consider it to be a plastic oyster spacer used in aquaculture.

Oyster spacers are used by oyster farmers to separate the scallop shells that the spat (oyster larval stage; when it begins to develop a shell) are planted on. The scallop shells are then strung through a wire, which is then hung from bamboo rafts and suspended in open water to allow the oysters to mature.

Line drawing courtesy of JEAN.

As the oysters mature the spacing in between the scallop shells has to be increased thus a longer piece of plastic spacer must be used. This type of oyster cultivation is known at long line oyster farming.

While we are fairly certain that these items are oyster spacers, we are not 100% sure. If you have any more information about this marine debris item, please contact us at

Sources and Acknowledgements

Japan Environmental Action Network (JEAN). 2010. Available at

Ohkura, Y. 2010. Personal communication. International Liaison and Information Manager, Japan Environmental Action Network.

Author: NOAA Marine Debris Program

The NOAA Marine Debris Program envisions the global ocean and its coasts, users, and inhabitants free from the impacts of marine debris. Our mission is to investigate and solve the problems that stem from marine debris, in order to protect and conserve our nation's marine environment, natural resources, industries, economy, and people.

3 thoughts on ““What on Earth?” ENTRY #002: Oyster tubes (by Brandi Sasaki, guest blogger)

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