Wild Estuaries: Eastern Oysters

Wild Estuaries: Eastern Oysters 

Besides mangroves, oysters also play a critical role in estuaries. These mollusks are a valuable food source and provide a sheltered habitat for much marine life and other wildlife, but they also provide an essential part of water quality.

A single oyster filters up to 50 gallons of water per day

What is an oyster?

Oysters are mullocks (an animal without a backbone). They have an irregular shaped and extremely rough outer shell that is mostly composed of calcium carbonate. Inside that shell is the oyster, consisting of a three-chamber heart, muscles, and other complex organs. The vital part of oysters is their gills. Their gills are what makes them know for as a filter feeder.

While submerged in water gathered together by the hundreds, these oyster colonies (also called an oyster reef) will consume hundreds to thousands of phytoplankton (https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/features/Phytoplankton) or algae that floats or swims through their gills as they filter the water. While the oysters are filtering the phytoplankton and other microscope organisms, they are also removing nitrogen, which helps prevent algae blooms that are harmful to marine life.

Rebuilding Oyster Reef Habitats

Oysters need locations surrounded by water that comprises rigid substrates. These substrates are essential for the oysters to connect as it continues its life cycle during their larvae growth. There are conservation concerns regarding oyster reef habitats. Many organizations and agencies are working together to build oyster reefs throughout Florida’s coastal areas.

Here are some links for more information:

Oyster Reef Restoration

Recovery and Resilience of Oyster Reefs in the Big Bend of Florida

Oyster Spitting

So I have searched the internet for days and I can not find the reason why oysters spit out water during low tide. As soon as I find out that answer I will let you know!

Have fun and stay safe in your travels!

Links of Interest

Florida Oyster Reef Restoration

FWC: Oyster Recovery

NOAA: Oyster Reef Habitat


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