The Eastern Oyster

With this month being Marsh Madness, there is no better time to highlight the Eastern oyster, the most important organism in our salt marshes! Oysters play a vital role as filter feeders, helping to improve water quality. They belong to the shellfish family and, like mussels or clams, have a hinged shell. Oyster reefs offer valuable shelter and habitat for many fish species. Although oysters can thrive at depths of up to 30 meters, they typically prefer shallow water habitats. Once they reach maturity, oysters remain stationary, forming intertidal beds that play a crucial role in stabilizing marsh edges. Unfortunately, due to factors such as poor water quality, overfishing, and habitat destruction, oyster populations have significantly declined from their former abundance. If you want to help our local populations, consider volunteering with one of South Carolina Oyster Recycling and Enhancement’s many programs.  

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