THE SCIENCE BEHIND OYSTERS
Oysters play an important role in the marine ecosystem. Oysters are filter feeders, which means that they take in their nutrients by filtering ocean water through their bodies. Once they take in their food, they then expel clean water back into the ocean. One oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day. Because oysters filter water, they improve water quality, increase fish habitat, and lower the effects of eutrophication (nutrient influx from land) by removing those nutrients from the ecosystem. Oysters’ natural ability to cleanse the ocean make them the ideal organism to foster a sustainable environment for both the marine ecosystem and human users of the ocean.
Up through the early 1900s, oysters were the most abundant shellfish along the coast of Rhode Island. Oyster processing, including shucking, packing, and shipping, provided many jobs to the people of Rhode Island. In addition, oysters provided a healthy food source.