Oysters Are Greener Than You Think

By Megan Pratz

So we understand that the Chesapeake Bay oyster is in danger. Why is it so important? Why should you care?

First, many people find the oyster delicious, raw or cooked. Watermen are able to sell them to restaurants year-round. But even if you don’t enjoy them, oysters do much more than fill bellies.

Oysters rest on the bottoms of the Bay and its tributaries, creating reefs. These reefs can sustain several other species including fish and small crabs.

And blue crabs use oysters as a source of food. As the blue crab population has attempted to rebuild, the oyster population has been critical to their survival.

The Bay has dead zones where no living creatures can survive because of a lack of oxygen, due, in some part, to chemical contaminants.

Oysters are filter feeders, meaning they filter out the contaminants and other sediments to make the water cleaner.

Historically, the oyster has been a symbol of the Bay across the world. Oysters contribute to the economy and rich heritage of the Chesapeake Bay.

Now, next time you enjoy an oyster or wonder why its important, you’ll know it does more for the Bay.

Photo courtesy of UMCES

About Us

Bay on the Brink is a multimedia reporting project examining the fate of the Chesapeake Bay. It is produced by fellows at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill College of Journalism as part of News21, a consortium of journalism schools. This is the fellows' blog. The full project site is here: http://chesapeake.news21.com
A photo on Flickr
A photo on Flickr
A photo on Flickr
A photo on Flickr
A photo on Flickr
A photo on Flickr