Happy New Years! Plus a European surprise…

Oysters of the Northeast

Wondering what you are looking at in the pages above?

Well, I wanted to let you in on a discovery the naturalists at Star Island made last year. Several times in the harbor between Smuttynose and Malaga and on Star’s swimming beach we found mysterious loner oysters. Some of you stopped in the lab and saw them.

European or edible oyster (Photo courtesy of massoyster.org)

European or edible oyster (Photo courtesy of massoyster.org)

Others of you no doubt know, most oysters naturally grow in estuarine bodies of brackish water. Together a group of oysters is commonly called a bed or oyster reef which provides home for hundreds of animals such as sea anemones, barnacles and hooked mussels.

After researching the oysters in Life Between the Tides: Marine Plants and Animals of the Northeast, we realized they were the edible (or European) oyster. These oysters were brought to Maine to foster an aquaculture industry unlike the differently shaped Eastern oyster also found in the Gulf of Maine.

As the book says:

Although scientists thought the Maine water temperatures were too cool in the summer for this species to reproduce, they have found occasional individuals in unusual places, suggesting that reproduction and survival may have occurred…

The oysters have spread as far South as Rhode Island. Pretty cool right? What other well-known species in the Gulf of Maine are invasive? Leave us a comment or question if you know. And have a happy new year!

Watling, L., Fegley, J., & Moring J. (2003) Life Between the Tides: Marine Plants and Animals of the Northeast. Tilbury House, Gardner, ME.

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