BarnegatShellfish.org


Index

Home

About Barnegat
Bay


History

Wampum

Shellfish

Clams

Oysters

Crabs

Snails

Shrimp

Whelks


Environment

Glossary

Links to Barnegat Bay Webites

Links to Useful Websites

About Us

Eastern Oysters were once abundant in Barnegat Bay.  Due to over harvesting and disease their numbers have been significantly reduced. 

Oysters

 

Anatomy

 

Lifecycle

 Eastern Oyster                              Crassostrea virginica

Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver's Travels, is quoted as saying:

            “He was a bold man that first eat an oyster”

It’s a mystery as to when people first began eating oysters.  Most likely, they witnessed an animal such as an otter opening and eating, what at first glance, looked like a rock.

Whatever the origins, people have valued oysters as a food source since recorded history.

Particularly prized by early Greek and Roman cultures, oysters are exceptionally nutrient-rich foods that contain protein and carbohydrates.

The eastern oyster is a bivalve mollusk with rough shells that vary in color from grayish to white.

The shell of the eastern oyster is thick, flattened, and highly variable in shape. It grows from round (irregular) to oval and usually bears concentric ridges. The exterior color of the shell is dirty white to gray.

    <Click on image to enlarge>     

Unlike clams, oysters do not dig themselves into the bay bottom for protection. They require a hard surface to attach to.  This is where they will spend the rest of their lives.

Juvenile oysters (also called spat) attach themselves (with a glue-like substance) to rocks, shell or other oysters.

After time, this accumulation of oysters and shell forms a reef.  These reefs not only provide an environment for future generations of oysters but for a habitat for many different species of animals. 

Fish such as blennies and gobies, grass shrimp, snails, barnacles, mussels, flatworms and crabs to name a few.

The smaller animals in turn become food for larger animals such as flounder and weakfish.   (everybody benefits)                                <Click on image to enlarge>

 
 
 

 



Credits

Fisherman's Quarters - http://www.fishermansquarters.info/

Oysters - Photograph by Christopher Judy

Oyster - Photo by Dennis Washburn