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A Look at Oyster Aquaculture

November 03, 2021

Aquaculture brings healthy, sustainable oysters to your table. But how do they get there? Check out a few photos to see how aquaculture grows and delivers great seafood.

An inspector stands in a field of aquaculture bags, ankle-deep in water In some places, oysters are farmed intertidally and live out of the water for a time at low tide. These shellfish are raised in mesh bags and open to filter feed during high tide. Here, a NOAA Fisheries aquaculture coordinator visits an intertidal farm. Photo: NOAA Fisheries
A person walks among rows of aquaculture oysters growing on ropes
Intertidal longlines are another method of farming oysters. A rope is stretched along the ground in the intertidal region at low tide and supported about a foot above the ground with pegs. Suspending juvenile oysters above the natural bed allows the oysters to grow faster than if they’d settled down in the mud or sand. Here, researchers and biologists team up at Taylor Shellfish to study the ecosystem service benefits of oyster farms. Photo: NOAA Fisheries
Two workers look at an open cage of oysters while on a workboat
In other areas, farmers use off-bottom oyster cages to raise their shellfish. Like other bag- and cage-grown shellfish, oysters produced using off-bottom culture techniques are typically sold to the premium half-shell market. These farmers at Maryland’s Madhouse Oysters use boats to reach their off-bottom cage farm site. Photo: NOAA Fisheries
A man sorts oysters on a table while a woman moves an oyster cage
Sorting oysters is an important part of the farming process. Sorting allows farmers to increase product consistency by harvesting market size oysters and returning smaller individuals to the water to grow. Here, farmers at Carolina Mariculture Co. sort and grade their oysters for the half-shell market. Photo: D. Hurlbert


A crate of oysters is carried by a person wearing gloves
Once sorted, oysters make their way to restaurants, raw bars, and kitchens providing consumers with sustainable seafood and a unique taste of the ocean. Here are Cherrystone oysters entering the seafood supply chain. Photo: Sea Grant
Shucked oysters on a plate
Whether enjoyed grilled, fried, or raw, oysters make a great addition to your plate. Consumers enjoy oysters on the half shell served with popular garnishes like lemon, cocktail sauce, horseradish, and mignonette sauce. Photo: NOAA Fisheries


Last updated by Office of Habitat Conservation on November 04, 2021