Species: Magallana gigas
Catch Date: 05/16/22, Kept Live
Aquaculture Farm: Starbird Mariculture
Farmer: Chris Starbird
Method: Suspended Bags
Location: Tomales Bay
Monterey Bay Seafood Watch Rating: Best Choice
Biological Information: The Pacific Oyster is native to Japan and was introduced to North America in the 1920’s, and since then they have become the most commonly farmed oyster in the world. They have a distinctive, elongated shell that has thick, rough folds with the inside being an off white color with purple streaks. Pacific Oysters are fast growers and quick to reach maturity. They are all born male and with age metamorphose into highly fecund females capable of producing 50-200 million eggs during a single spawning event. In the larval phase they are mobile and move through the water column with a larval foot to help them locate a good location to settle as an adult. Once they settle, they permanently attach to their chosen substrate using a cement secreted from a gland in their foot. Often, Oyster larvae will settle onto adult Oyster shells creating a huge conglomeration of Oysters, called an Oyster Reef. Oysters act as filter feeders, siphoning in water and combing out the phytoplankton as their food source and pushing out purified water. They can each purify up to 50 gallons of water per day. Pacific Oysters have a crisp flavor and mild brininess.
Sustainability: Monterey Bay Seafood Watch rates farmed Pacific Oysters as a Best Choice due to the low environmental impacts of shellfish aquaculture. There are negligible amounts of environmental damage and natural habitat impacts. Oysters are also an important members of the ocean ecosystem in that they filter and clean the surrounding water helping to eliminate extra amounts of harmful algae as well as toxins.