Fun Facts About Oysters

Oysters are widely known for their unique delicious flavor. They are believed to possess certain powers and are an important part of marine life. Oysters help keep water clean serving as unmatched water filters. Want to know more about this astonishing shellfish? Here are some interesting facts about oysters.


1. THEY'RE GREAT WATER FILTERS

Oyster Water Filters

It’s unbelievable, but an oyster typically filters up to 50 gallons of water daily. Curious to know how? An oyster uses cilia to get water in over its gills. Plankton and particles contained in the water stay in mucus in the gill and get into the oyster’s mouth. Feeding on their own snot oysters remove excess sediment, nutrients, and algae from the water. This helps keep the water clean and healthy for other marine dwellers to live in.


2. THEY FORM NEIGHBORHOOD COMMUNITIES


Oysters develop beds or reefs where fish and other creatures like sea anemones and barnacles live. Such reefs attract striped bass, black drum, and croaker that feed on anemones and other small fish. This brings about 1.5 extra tons of seafood a year.


3. OYSTERS SPAWN IN SPRING


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In spring when water gets warmer female oysters lay a great number of eggs and males release their sperm. If eggs and sperm meet in the open water they form fertilized eggs which grow to become tiny larvae. For three weeks the larvae which are the size of little black specks drift in water feeding on algae. Then, the survived larvae get attached to some hard surface, usually other oysters, and turn into a small oysters known as a spat. In areas with few reefs oyster larvae may fail to settle and will just die.


4. THEY HOLD BACK FIERCE WAVES


Oyster reefs protect again storm waves and sea level rise. These natural barriers absorb up to 90 percent of wave energy, helping eliminate erosion, decrease the risk of flooding, and reduce property damage from powerful storms on the coast. Unlike manmade rip-rap or bulkheads oyster reefs serve as habitat for other forms of marine life and are actually free, with no maintenance costs required.


5. OYSTERS ARE GOOD FOR YOU YEAR-ROUND


Oysters are rich in zinc, which improves the immune system, and low in cholesterol. They also contain calcium, vitamin C, omega 3 fatty acids, iron, and protein. And it should be mentioned that the rule of eating oysters in months with a letter ‘R’ in them is out of date due to considerable improvements in food safety.


6. IRRITATION SPAWNS PERLS


Pearl Oysters

Now lets’ focus on pearl oysters (family Aviculidae) which are close relatives of the food oysters (family Ostreidae). When a grain, sand or any other tiny irritant penetrates inside an oyster shell, it gets covered with nacre, the substance the inside lining of the shell consists of. With the years more and more layers of this substance are added and a pearl forms. The pigment in the nacre impacts the color while shape of a pearl depends on the shape of the original intruder. These days, however, pearls are typically cultured in farmed oysters. They look exactly like natural ones but are much less expensive.


7. OYSTER REEFS ARE ENDANGERED WORLDWIDE


Oyster reefs are among the fastest disappearing marine habitats on Earth. Unfortunately the marine ecosystem tends to lose up to 90 percent of wild reefs. Improper fishing practices, including overharvesting, as well as deteriorating water quality are responsible for that.


8. REEF RESTORATION WORKS


Oyster Reef Restoration

But the good news is that a number of oyster reef restoration projects are being underway in the U.S. As a result of these efforts oysters have experienced a 212 percent increase in growth and other marine life on the reefs has had 850 percent increase.


9. CREATIVE REEF RESTORATION METHODS ARE USED


Scientists and ecologists employ different methods to restore oyster reefs. Apart from shooting oyster shell from high-pressure hoses they place bags of shells in the water, plant sea grass behind the reef for extra habitat and even establish lines of shell and rock to stabilize the shoreline. In areas with few places for oysters to develop spat new reefs are created using seed oysters from hatcheries.


10. ACID IS BAD FOR OYSTERS


Carbon dioxide found in the water changes its chemistry and composition. Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution the world’s oceans have gained 30 percent of acidity. Oyster larvae can parish in such water and it is much more difficult for oysters to form shells.


11. PROPER OYSTER HARVESTING DOESN'T HARM OTHER SPECIES


Oyster Harvesting

Eastern oysters from Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and Florida caught by dredge or tong are considered to be "Best Choices". These harvesting techniques are sustainable and don’t involve bycatch. It means that other species of marine life are not caught along with oysters. So consider purchasing seafood that is not fished or farmed in ways that harm the environment.


12. THERE ARE FIVE SPECIES IN U.S. WATERS


In the USA oysters are abundant on the East, West, and Gulf Coasts. Crassostreavirginica, the Eastern oyster, is found in the Gulf of Mexico and in waters from Canada to Key Biscayne, Florida. If you live on the West Coast, you can treat on Ostreolaconchaphila. Plus on the West Coast Pacific or Japanese oyster, Crassostreagigas is actively cultivated. There are two more types of oyster grown in the country: the European Flat oysters (Ostreaedulis) and Kumamatos (Crassostreasikamea).


13.OYSTERS CAN BE EATEN IN A VARIETY OF WAYS


Oysters can be prepared in any way imaginable. They can be served fried, stewed, grilled, in soup, wrapped in bacon, mixed into dressing, etc. There are so many ways how to cook oysters that they can be rightfully called universal seafood that will be appealing to everyone.


14. OIL KILLS OYSTERS


Prepared Oysters

Oysters get killed during oil spill disasters. For example, during the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico oyster eggs, sperm and larvae were reported to have been exposed to oil and dispersants. As a result lots of oysters were killed, plus oil spills may have so called sub-lethal effects that include decreased reproductive functions. It should be noted that sedentary oysters can’t move away from the affected area and that is why are the most vulnerable to contamination.


15. OYSTERS DON’T ENHANCE LIBIDO


Unfortunately, scientists didn't find reliable evidence that proves the popular belief that oysters are an aphrodisiac. Oysters are rich in phosphorus and iodine, which have a positive impact on human stamina. Zinc that oysters contain is responsible for production of testosterone. Scientists found two rare amino acids: D-aspartic acid and N-methyl-D-aspartate in a type of mussel related to oysters. Experiments revealed that these acids enhance sperm motility and stimulate testosterone in mice. However no scientific research provided proof that oysters can increase libido.