Eastern Oyster
(Crassotrea virginica)

Length - Maximum of approx. 6 – 8 inches
Weight - Maximum of approx. 1 – 2 oz.

Eastern oysters are found along the east coast of North America, and along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico.

Eastern oysters utilize brackish waters ranging from 5 to 40 feet deep. They can often be found in the intertidal zone. Eastern oysters often accumulate in beds and bars.

Oysters are bivalves, and as such feed on the nutrients found in the water column through a process commonly known as suspension-feeding.

Life History:
Oysters grow fast and are highly fecund. Each female oyster can produce over 100 million eggs at once. Fertilization occurs externally and the oyster larvae develop while suspended in the water column. Once oysters settle, they begin to grow quickly and reach market size within just one year.

Importance to Fisheries and Aquaculture:
The eastern oyster is farmed throughout its range in the United States. The industry surrounding oyster production supports many jobs. Juvenile oysters or ‘seed’ are commonly purchased from a hatchery by oyster farmers. These oysters are then placed on suitable substrate, in bags, or on ropes, where they will take in nutrients from the water column. These young oysters will be ready for harvest within a year.

Fun Fact:
Eastern oysters are known to be quite healthy, and provide a great source of omega-3 fatty acids.