Catalina Sea Ranch has also been awarded a $100,000 USDA SBIR Phase I contract for the “Cryopreservation of Mussel Larvae for a Competitive United States Shellfish Industry”. This project will improve upon the results of recent academic research into cryopreservation of mussel larvae as applied to large-scale commercial sustainable shellfish aquaculture operations. The ability to freeze mussel larvae over long periods and achieve a high rate of survival after thawing would allow the production of juveniles (spat) year round, eliminating the difficult task of bringing broodstock into spawning condition out of season. This would overcome the seasonal spawning obstacle that currently hobbles the advancement of commercial shellfish aquaculture. Cryopreservation of larvae would provide secure seed on demand for assuring scheduled harvests and consistent crop production
Catalina Sea Ranch's selective breeding program will also benefit from the ability to freeze (and thaw) cells or embryos at a variety of developmental stages: sperm, oocytes (eggs), and larvae. The ability to reliably cryopreserve sperm and oocytes affords additional advantages in the effort to generate the new breeds that will be needed to maintain production efficiency in the face of climate change and ocean acidification.