Conservationists have brought 1,300 of the molluscs to the Firth of Clyde placing them at protected sites beneath pontoons at Largs Yacht Haven and Fairlie Quay Marina.
The move is part of the Wild Oysters Project, a partnership between the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), Blue Marine Foundation and British Marine, which aims to help restore healthy, resilient coastal waters around the UK.
Oysters have earned the title ‘ocean superheroes’ for the benefits they provide to the marine environment, including filtering pollutants from the water and providing important habitat for other sealife.
But populations of native oysters have been almost wiped out in UK waters due to over-fishing and other human activities, declining by 95 per cent over the past couple of centuries.
The ZSL project is aiming to restore the shellfish to areas where they were once abundant.
The first Scottish oyster nurseries are being established by suspending the shellfish underneath marina pontoons in Largs, creating a micro habitat where they can spawn future generations.
The oysters will begin reproducing over the next few months, releasing millions of babies, known as larvae, into the surrounding sea.
Just a handful of known oyster populations remain in the Clyde, but it’s hope this will soon change.
Celine Gamble, Wild Oysters Project manager for ZSL, said: “Now the oysters are in their new home in the marinas, they will almost immediately begin their important work, each filtering 200 litres of water a day.
“In the coming months the oysters will start to produce the next generation of the oyster population by releasing larvae which will then settle onto the seabed.
"It’s our ambition that the project will help to create cleaner water, healthier fisheries and plentiful marine biodiversity in Britain.”
The project has partnered locally with the Clyde Porpoise CIC (Community Interest Company) and local working group Fairlie Coastal Trust.
Local project officer for the initiative and Clyde Porpoise CIC founder David Nairn said: “Inshore dredging, pollution, climate change and illegal shellfish harvesting have all contributed to the demise of the native oyster population here in the Firth of Clyde.
“Restoring this incredible species under marina pontoons will enable us to support healthy coastal waters in the Clyde and across Scotland, while also providing an outdoor classroom for local schools and communities, creating a ‘window’ into the ocean to inspire the next generation to protect and care for the marine environment.”
The Wild Oysters Project is a three-year initiative, backed by £1.18 million of funding from the Postcode Dream Trust, which gives organisations the opportunity to bring ambitious, innovative and collaborative projects to life.
A total of 4,000 native oysters have been deployed into nurseries under marina pontoons across the UK so far, with other sites in Tyne and Wear in England and Conwy Bay in Wales.