Of the several oyster1 species found on this coast, only one, the Olympia oyster2 Ostrea conchaphila (= lurida) is indigenous.  It is now rare on most open-coast shores, but may be locally common in embayments. Several other species3 of Ostrea and Crassostrea may be present locally, either released accidently from mariculture facilities or intentionally introduced. Many of these species either don't reproduce or do so only infrequently. An exception is the Japanese (Pacific) oyster Crassostrea gigas, which reproduces frequently and is locally abundant along the entire west coast. Because of the economic interest in oyster culture on the west coast there is an enormous literature on reproductive and larval biology, most of it applied and too voluminous to be included here; however, a few studies are represented.  In contrast to the large volume of mariculture research on oysters, little attention has been paid to their ecology.

photograph of oysters Crassostrea gigas and Ostrea conchaphilaNOTE1  the English word “oyster” derives from the Old French “oistre”, and that presumably from the Latin “ostrea”, referring to the animal.  In the absence of an original English common name for oyster, one wonders if they were missing from British diets until after the Norman invasion of 1066.  In this regard, recall the words of Jonathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels):  “It was a bold person that first ate an oyster”, to which we can add:  “But bolder still the first that ate an oyster with the shells removed”!

NOTE2  the Olympia oyster has recently enjoyed a surge of interest in the dedication of an entire issue number of Journal of Shellfish Research (2009 Vol 28 Issue 1) to its biology.  Several papers from this journal are included in this section of the ODYSSEY

NOTE3  these include the European oyster Ostrea edulis, Suminoe oyster Crassostrea ariakensis, Kumamoto oyster Crassostrea sikamea, and eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica

Oysters Crassostrea gigas (Left)
and Ostrea conchaphila (Right) 0.6X

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ANIMATION of snail meeting OYSTERS
© 2010 Thomas Carefoot

To learn about west-coast OYSTERS: select a topic from the oyster menu at the top of the page

OR: play the ANIMATION of the snail meeting the OYSTERS

OR, if you want to see other animations: follow the snail on its ODYSSEY by CLICKING on any X-marked invertebrate on the map

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Phylum Mollusca (lit. “soft” or “shellfish” L.)

Class Bivalvia (lit. “two folding doors” L.), referring to the two parts of a clam or scallop shell joined by a flexible hinge

SubClass Pteriomorpha (lit. “wing form” G.), including bivalves that attach by byssus threads or cementation

Order Pterioidea, including oysters (Family Ostreidae), including Ostrea conchaphila, Crassostrea spp.

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