All you need to know about Oysters

Oysters are bivalve molluscs that are eaten in various cultures around the globe. There are some oysters that create pearls but they are not edible. They are furry from the outside and belong to a different family of oysters called ‘Ostreidae’. The other family of oysters is ‘Pteriidae’, they are edible and are considered as a delicacy. This family of Oysters is also known as “true oysters”.

The edible component is the meat inside the oyster; you just have to crack the outer shell and cook the meat in any way you desire. This article is going to give you a detailed description of what oysters are, their habitat, shells, behavior, and survival.


Although it may be possible that some eatable oysters produce pearls sometimes but this happens very rarely. This aspect should not be confused with the actual pearl oysters. True oysters are found throughout the world’s ocean. However, you can mostly find them in shallow sea waters and colonies, often referred to as beds or reefs. The Atlantic waters from Canada to Argentina are the most heavily harvested and popular areas to find oysters. Another type is also found in the Pacific sea from Japan to Washington State till the borders of Australia.


The shape of the oyster shells mostly depends on where they are attached to. They are mostly found in oval or pear-shaped. Oyster shells are whitish grey in color from the outside but from the inside, they are porcelain white in colour.


Oysters mostly consume algae and other food particles from water that is constantly drawing over their gills. They change gender more than once in their life and often reproduce when the water warms up by hatching.

Threats to Survival

Over the years, the number of oysters being caught has greatly decreased. Due to this reason, it has become a luxury treat. Although some commercial harvesting is also done; however, oysters are extremely sensitive to water quality and coastal pollution. They also have the ability to retain toxins in the meat inside them which makes it unsafe for human consumption.

How do oysters survive?

Oysters live and grow in water but the surprising fact is that it can live up to two weeks without water. When they are moved outside water, their metabolism slows down. Those oysters that are not very strong need to be consumed within a day or two. Oyster shells are very good at protecting themselves. They have strong muscles that close their shells whenever they feel threatened.

Oysters come in all forms, some can be eaten and some cannot. From over the years, oyster production has greatly declined due to water pollution and oil spills in the sea. It is our responsibility to take care of this unique species and make our sea waters clean enough for them to survive.

Learn about the health benefits of oysters