Eastern Oyster

Crassostrea virginica

Image by Roberta Miller of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0

Physical: Eastern oysters are bivalves with a soft body inside two rough shells, which are white to gray in color.   The bottom shell is cupped, with a purple muscle scar on the inside. Eastern oysters are 150-250 cm  in length.

Habitat: They live in shallow estuarine water along the Atlantic coast. They prefer a firm substrate, and attach to each another, forming beds or reefs that  provide habitat for many fish and invertebrate species.

Feeding: Eastern oysters are filter feeders, consuming plankton by opening their shells and pumping water through their gills.

Breeding: Adults spawn (release eggs and sperm into the water) in early summer as water temperatures warm.  Fertilized eggs develop into free-swimming larvae.  After a couple of weeks of growth, larvae “settle” on a hard surface, where they attach by secreting a cement-like substance.  The settled larvae are called “spat.”

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