Importance of oysters

A look at their value to the ecosystem

Why do we place such an emphasis on oysters?

They have a lot of benefits.

  • They filter water. This Chesapeake vacuum cleaner removes plankton, algae, and other particles from the water column, resulting in cleaner water and a healthier environment for other Bay species. A single healthy oyster can filter 50 gallons of water a day. In the process, they can remove excessive nitrogen and phosphorus pollution.
  • They create habitat. The presence of their shells creates a hard surface on the bottom of the Bay that offers a home to other bay organisms that depend on it to grow. Some examples include barnacles, mussels, and anemones. Oyster reefs also provide shelter and spawning areas for swimming species, as well as protection of shorelines from wave erosion.
  • They boost the economy. Oysters provide a market for food and a way of life for many watermen and aquaculturists of the Chesapeake Bay. They make a living off oysters, and their work brings oysters to your table at home or local restaurants. Some of those restaurants even recycle their shells so they can be reused for future oysters, bringing the process full circle.