10 Things You Didn't Know About Oysters

  1. Oysters have been around for approximately 15 million years.

  2. An oyster becomes an adult when it turns one year old and can live as long as 20 years.

  3. Oysters can change their sex. In fact, they will often do it more than once.

  4. Juvenile oysters are called spat.

  5. Oysters breathe like fish—yes, they have gills.

  6. Oysters are vegetarians. They eat algae by filtering it out of the water.

  7. A single adult oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day. That's about as much water as you use in a 10-minute shower.

  8. As oyster generations settle on one another and grow, they form reefs that provide shelter for other animals, like fish and crabs.

  9. A raw oyster may still be alive as you eat it. No really—if you're at a raw bar and someone shucks you a fresh oyster, it's likely still alive. Give it a poke with a fork next time to see if it moves.

  10. Oyster shells are recyclable. You can return your shells at several drop off locations around the Bay, and they'll be reused to help grow juvenile oysters.

Find out more interesting facts on our Oyster Facts web page. Learn more about how oysters are doing in the Chesapeake Bay and the important role they play.

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The Chesapeake Bay Foundation needs your help to preserve the Bay and the creatures that depend on it—like the Eastern Oyster. Help spread the word and inspire others by sharing these amazing facts with your friends.

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