The Tiny Life of Oysters

Not sure how to start your discussions on oysters? Check out this video, The Tiny Life of Oysters:

Oysters may lead a tiny life, but their story has a long history and a big impact. This video mentions important concepts that we talk about at Station 3: Oyster Bar Community.

  • Oyster reefs provide a habitat for benthic (bottom dwelling) organisms to live in and around.
  • The oyster population is currently less 1% of its original size, which poses and environmental and economic threat to the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
  • The decline in oyster population is due largely in part to over harvesting, diseases like MSX and Dermo, and habitat loss due to increased sedimentation and turbidity.
  • Restoration efforts to increase the oyster population have been focused on building oyster reefs, so that oyster larvae have a surface to attach to in order to grow.

This video has some great visualizations, too. The idea of “oyster spat” is sometimes confusing. Oysters start their life as larvae, and are considered spat only for the first year of life, and only after they attach to a substrate. Although not labeled, around minute 1:20, there is a great visualization of larvae free-floating until they attach to the oyster reef.

To understand just how tiny the larvae are when they are released, check out the visual around minute 1:45. Once attached, oysters are sessile, or not moving, but as larvae, they are free-floating in the water column and moved around by currents.

Around minute 1:56 there is an awesome simulation of oyster larvae moving throughout the Choptank River, a river system that is part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The simulation ties it all together of how these tiny oyster larvae are the key to the success of building oyster reefs.

This video pairs well with one of the information sheets from the teacher packet that each teacher receives at their first training workshop. Curious? Check out the training workshop dates and contact Jane Holly to sign up!

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One thought on “The Tiny Life of Oysters

  1. Pingback: Oysters and Carbon Dioxide? | Estuary Chesapeake

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