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.
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.
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:
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
All photos and videos available in my Nature Photography galleries can be used for personal use, blogs, educational presentations or publications. Your purchases help support Florida Nature Magazine. Thank you!