The word “farm” typically brings to mind images of cows, chickens, and green crops growing in a vast pasture. However, you won’t see any of these things at an oyster farm.

 Most people have little idea how the fresh oysters on their table got to be there, so we’ve decided to answer some of the FAQs we receive about oyster farms. Here’s everything you need to know about how raw oyster goes from farm to table:

Oyster farms are strategically placed

Most types of shellfish specifically grow in either saltwater or freshwater. Scallops and lobsters stick to the salty seas off the East Coast, while some varieties of live clams and live mussels solely in rivers and lakes.

 Oysters are unique in the sense that they like a mix of the two. In the wild, an oyster’s natural spawning point is an area near the coast where the ocean meets a freshwater river. Also known as estuaries, these places result in a brackish water environment with a lower salinity than the ocean but a far higher salinity than the rivers that feed into them.

 As a result, oyster farms began their operations in these specific areas and remain there today.

The type of live oysters an oyster farm cultivates depends on the area

Did you know that there are more than 200 varieties of oysters? As you can imagine, each type of oyster requires different water and care conditions.

 For example, the Crassostrea virginicia, better known as the Easter oyster, spawns in the briny waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Oyster farms in the Chesapeake Bay are perfectly located to cultivate this type of oyster, as they don’t thrive off of the Pacific Ocean. Meanwhile, oyster farms in Puget Sound (like ours!) have the perfect water temperatures to cultivate Pacific oysters.

 Other types of oysters, such as the Pinctada genus of pearl oysters, prefer warm water temperatures. You can find these shellfish and their signature shiny, mother-of-pearl oyster shells at farms in places like Fiji, Tahiti, and the Persian Gulf.

Oysters require more care than you would think

Long before you pick up an oyster knife and begin shucking to reach that succulent oyster meat, shellfish farmers had to put in a significant amount of work to ensure that you could enjoy them!

 Oysters are bivalves, meaning that they are filter feeders, sucking in and pushing out water to find food. They do this nonstop, and some oysters can even filter over 50 gallons of water every day!

 Oyster farming requires more work than simply harvesting the shellfish at the end of each season. In fact, ensuring that we deliver the highest quality product to every home and oyster bar requires quite a bit of aquaculture know-how.

 Our bivalves need to be protected from predators that eat oysters, like anemones, crabs, and sea birds. Though oysters are a difficult meal, carnivores are attracted to them as they are rich in calcium.

 The oysters are placed in baskets or strong mesh bags, which helps to keep the predators out but also allows them to be jostled on every side by the ocean’s waves. This results in a fuller, deeply cupped oyster with firm and succulent meats.

 Like any type of crop or livestock, the oysters must be carefully monitored—water temperatures, salinity levels, or disease—which is a full-time job.

 When live oysters are harvested, they must quickly be cooled using refrigeration to ensure that they are safe to eat. From there, their meat can be harvested by our professional shuckers and tinned or shipped with cooling packs across the globe.

 Next time you enjoy an oyster sampler with mignonette or cocktail sauce, remember that it took a lot of work to get them to you! At Taylor Shellfish Farms, we’re happy to give you the highest quality oysters ready for all your needs.