The Eastern Oyster
Also Known As
American oyster, Atlantic oyster, American cupped oyster, Virginia oyster
Average 3–5 inches in length; can grow up to 8 inches
Up to 20 years
Habitat loss, overharvesting, disease, degraded water quality, changing conditions due to climate change
Courtesy of The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA
The oyster is more than a shellfish, a commodity, an animal. In the Chesapeake Bay area, it is a culture, a way of life, a business. It has been the centerpiece of community, wealth, nutrition, devastation, wars, collapse. It is a keystone species that has survived, just barely, the insults of man and nature. It is the great filterer of Bay waters. It lives in a commons that no one owns, but all have access and may choose to exploit.
Cloudy river water was placed in both aquariums three hours before this photo was taken. The aquarium on the left has a few minnows and small crabs. The right aquarium has three adult oysters. There is a brochure with a TOGA logo behind each aquarium. Air temperature was in the mid-70s.
by Mark W. Luckenbach, Francis X. O’Beirn, and Jake Taylor
It is our hope the resource will be used, in total or in part, by teachers and by volunteers invited into the schools. Users are encouraged to modify the resource to meet their specific needs. We are open to suggestions that might result in improvement.
Download the School Resource "Oysters in Chesapeake Bay" PDF presentation by Dr. Lynton Land