Crack open an oyster and there may be more than a snack inside! Oysters make pearls, but their own shells can be just as beautiful. This one has been drifting across the seashore for a while becoming home to other sea life and losing layers along the way. Beautiful purples, yellows, and creams combine to create another of Mother Nature’s mini-masterpieces!
The science bits: An oyster is a sessile bivalve that is permanently attached by one valve to a hard substrate in the intertidal zone. Inner surface is smoothed iridescent nacre AKA “mother of pearl”. Oysters make pearls…get it? They are a filter-feeder, using cilia to draw water (40-50 gallons per day) across the gills. Small plankton are trapped in mucus, which is then transported to the mouth and digestive system. In addition to filtering all that water, oysters provide a habitat for lots of others organisms including small crustaceans (crabs), worms, algae and barnacles…even other oysters use the hard outer shells as permanent landing zones.
Oysters are eaten around the world, but here in Florida we like them on a cracker with some cocktail sauce, a daub of horseradish, splash of hot sauce, and a squeeze of lemon. YUM!