Alex Shakspeare

Alex Shakspeare


I graduated from the University of Southampton with an MSci in Marine Biology in 2011, spent a year in Kenya working on seahorse culture and returned to the UK to work in marine environmental survey for a few years. In 2016 I decided to pursue an interest in aquaculture by studying for an MSc at Plymouth University, during which I gained as much experience of industrial practice as I could by working on various farms. My masters thesis involved collaboration with a pioneering mussel farming company on the south coast of England.

In order to further my understanding of the highly sustainable bivalve production industry I went to New Zealand after finishing my masters to work on the world leading mussel farms they have. Whilst in the country I also spent some time working on freshwater salmon farms.

My PhD research is still firmly in the field of bivalve culture, and I am spending the summer prior to commencing my research working with my industrial partners, getting familiar with the day to day processes of farming oysters.

Alex Shakspeare

Agri-environments and Water

University of Essex, School of Life Sciences

PhD title: Shellfish responses to global environmental change – implications for aquaculture and marine conservation

Coastal marine bivalve farming is a highly sustainable form of food production, producing a healthy form of protein for the human food market with an inherently low, and in some places positive, environmental footprint. Farming in the coastal environment, however, is not without its challenges, temperature variation, pathogens and pollution have already had an impact on the UK oyster industry.

Oyster culture projects are made more economically viable by increasing the proportion of the catch deriving from spat (juvenile oysters) settling naturally on the farm, reducing the costs associated with buying seed oysters. Spawning is primarily temperature driven and has, historically, been relatively predictable but is becoming less so as environmental temperature variations increase.

This project aims to utilise remote sensing technology, in combination with metabolic and behavioural studies, to increase understanding of the ecophysiology of oysters. By working closely with farmers and conservationists it is hoped that this increased understanding will assist in improving methods for both food production and oyster restoration projects.