Annually on August 5 the world comes together in the spirit of gastronomy and harmony to celebrate National Oyster Day. Yes, it’s a thing. So in honor of today and our favorite marine bivalves, we at Spey thought to compile a few facts quirky enough to make you a champion at trivia night and impress the shell out of your friends. So sit back, relax, and dive into some oyster food for thought this National Oyster Day.
1. Oyster Blood is Colorless
An oyster is comprised of two hinged shells (hence the name bivalve) which conceal and protect a soft-tissue body within. That body includes a three-chamber heart and kidneys which pump and clean colorless blood called hemolyph.
2. The Oyster is a Filter Feeder
Oysters feed by constantly circulating water through the shell and using gills to filter nutrients like algae and plankton. A single oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day – purifying the water around it and creating a cleaner, happier ecosystem.
3. Most Species of Oyster Are Hermaphrodites
There is no way of telling a male oyster from a female oyster just by looking at its shell. While oysters do have separate sexes, they have the ability to change genders due to environmental, nutritional, and physiological stresses, or even when near an oyster of the opposite sex.
4. Manhattan was Built on Oyster Shells
Pearl Street – Manhattan’s oldest street – is aptly named for the crushed oyster shells the Dutch used as pavement in the early 1700s. In fact, until overexploitation and pollution decimated the oyster beds, New York waters contained nearly half of the world’s oysters.
5. Oyster Connoisseurs Have a Language All Their Own
Oyster “liquor” (never juice) is the natural fluids kept inside an oyster when it is culled from the sea. Oysters come from different “terroir” (never waters), are “briny” (never salty) and may also be described as springy, plump, creamy, or copper (an acidic or rusty flavor).
6. Oysters are (Somewhat) an Aphrodisiac
18th century lover Casanova famously breakfasted on 50 oysters a day, but there is a link between oysters and sexual desire. Scientists have catalogued specific amino acids present in oysters which stimulate testosterone in males and progesterone in females, which increases libido.
7. Raw Oysters Are a Solid Source of Nutrition
If you can stomach the idea of eating oysters raw (and yes, if the oyster has just been shucked, it’s very much alive), then you benefit from a nutritionally balanced food: 23 percent carbs, 33 percent fat, 44 percent protein, and a good source of zinc, selenium, vitamin D, and iron.
8. All Oysters Have the Potential to Create a Pearl
Food or “true” oysters are from a different family of oysters than those that produce lustrous gems for the jewelry industry, but they can still produce pearls. The pearl is the oyster’s natural response to an intrusion or irritation within the shell and take many years to form.
So there you have it: eight fascinating facts about our champion, the oyster. Not only are oysters responsible for the fabulous Spey collection of fine pearl jewelry, but they also keep our oceans pure. Discover how Spey is working with an oyster cousin, the mussel, to preserve and protect our namesake River Spey in Scotland. National Oyster Day is a good day to wear pearls!