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The quarter deck of HMS Victory

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Thousands of baby oysters were signed up by the Royal Navy to fight pollution in Portsmouth Harbour.

The molluscs would help scientists discover how much toxic run-off from anti-fouling ship paint found its way into the water.

Ministry of Defence experts wanted to be certain that controls over the use and disposal of potentially harmful chemical compounds were tight enough in the naval base.

In particular, researchers were looking for tributyltin, a man-made substance used not only in paint, but also anti-rot treatment for woodwork.