WILD oysters are being dredged in Brightlingsea’s harbour after their razor-sharp shells cut the hands and feet of sailors.

Brightlingsea Sailing Club requested the rock oysters be removed after members suffered injuries while landing and launching their boats.

Rock oysters, also known as gigas oysters, are an invasive species.

Their numbers have grown along Essex’s coastline since they were imported into Britain in the Sixties.

Unlike native oysters, they grow with their sharp edges pointing upwards.

Robin Cole, harbourmaster, said: “I have heard stories of dogs running across the areas where these are growing and the huge vet bills which followed because the dogs have lacerated their feet.

“At the sailing club people have been cut and injured bringing their boats in at low tide as they jump into the water and land on these oysters.”

Dave Gibbons, Brightlingsea Sailing Club’s commodore, said: “These oysters are sharp enough to go through rubber boots.

“The real danger is if somebody trips or stumbles on to them.

“I don’t think anyone has had to have stitches, but certainly we have had two or three fairly serious cuts to feet or hands.”

The area around the sailing club is being dredged to prevent further injuries.

Mr Gibbons said: “The sailing club got clearance to remove the oysters by hand last year, but it was too big an exercise.

“The harbour authority said it would get involved and look at other methods. Last year they banged them down into the mud and now they are dredging the affected areas.”