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Monday, June 20, 2016

Oyster

Photo Credit: NIWA
The oyster is a remarkable animal. It changes its sex each year, can spawn in its male and female form, and is able to release up to one million eggs at a time.

Oyster larvae will settle on any solid object beneath the water's surface and cement themselves in place. They then start growing, adding layer upon layer to their shells to accommodate the expanding body inside.

The oyster feeds by filtering tiny food particles from the water. By beating the tiny hairs, or cilia, of its gills, it forces water through its partly opened shell at the rate of 2 to 4 gallons an hour. Any food particles sucked in stick to mucous strings that are attached to the cilia. The food is then forced into its mouth. Inside its stomach, the oyster has a rod-shaped mass of digestive enzymes, rotated by the current of water, which pulls in the food.

Did you know?
  • During the 18th and 19th centuries, oysters were so plentiful and inexpensive that they were considered a poor man's food. 
  • It takes from five months to seven years for an oyster to produce a cultured pearl. 
  • Oysters are invertebrate sea creatures, which means they don't have a backbone.

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