The Environmental Benefits of Oysters


Those with a taste for seafood know that oysters are a delicious way to partake in the wonderful bounty nature has to offer. Along with their delectable taste, oysters also provide a host of health benefits, from enhancing the immune system to reducing the risk of heart disease. In addition to the many obvious health benefits, oyster populations actually play an integral role in maintaining an underwater ecosystem.

Many oyster farms are key in keeping the underwater environment free of contaminants, as well as warding off soil erosion and offering a habitat for native creatures. Oyster reefs can even provide stability to shorelines, which is extremely useful during tumultuous weather events. For these reasons, many look to increasing the presence of oysters in their natural habitat as a matter of preservation.

Farmed vs. Wild Oysters

As society becomes increasingly invested in environmental concerns, deriving consumables from natural sources becomes more and more desirable. These items are seen as being healthier, as they are often free of the added chemicals and preservatives typically contained in processed food, as well as offering a more humane choice. Factory farming has a reputation for mistreating animals, which turns food selection into a moral issue.

However, this is not the case with oyster farms. Research has shown the many benefits oyster farming has on the environment. With other types of sea-life, introduction of non-native species can be quite damaging to local ecosystems. Such an introduction can destroy the delicate balance of life in an underwater locale, which can affect the area for years to come. Because oysters tend to feed on matter that can pollute water, they serve as a natural purification system that prohibits disease from ruining underwater life.

Oyster Reefs Offer Stability During Inclement Weather

Soil erosion due to lack of underground reefs can have many devastating effects, for both aquatic life and the surrounding community. This is especially true during things like hurricanes and other major weather events, which can damage property located near the shoreline. Oyster reefs can help strengthen shorelines, thereby allowing a community to re-build after a storm. 

Oyster reefs can also create a natural habitat for many different life-forms to flourish. Thanks to over-fishing, oyster populations all over the world have been reduced drastically. Not only is this detrimental to the species, it can also have an effect on many other underwater areas. By implementing new reefs, life can once again flourish, and shorelines are less likely to be compromised by a particularly volatile storm.

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Oysters Are a Natural Way to Decontaminate Water

Pollution is a very real concern for many places all over the world. From oil spills to run-off from factories and mills, the world’s water supply is continuously in danger due to the rise of commerce. Oyster farms are a natural way to combat such pollution because oysters feast on this excess matter, thereby improving water quality and reducing pollution.

For instance, reports have shown that bodies of water suffering from an over-abundance of nitrogen can easily be rectified by introducing oysters into the environment. Excess nitrogen can be a huge concern because it can cause rapid growth of algae. Too much algae and the sunlight necessary to sustain sea-life existing on floor of river or ocean beds can be impeded, causing the ecosystem to stagnate. Oysters consume this excess nitrogen, thereby cutting back on algae growth.

Oysters Create Better Water Quality Overall

Even the harvesting of oysters can be beneficial to the surrounding environment. The harvesting process causes silt and sediment to be dispersed, which can add a much needed dose of oxygen to water. When coupled with their natural ability to filter unwanted nutrients from a water source, oysters can have a huge impact on water quality. This helps create a healthy and robust environment for scores of sea creatures.

These natural filtering abilities of oysters are essential to maintaining a healthy ecosystem. Unfortunately, due to things like over-fishing and disease, oyster populations have been on a rapid decline for many years, creating a ripple effect in a number of underwater ecosystems. For this reason, many are initiating oyster farms not only as a means of commerce, but to also reintroduce this natural filtering ability back into the environment.

The Health Benefits Are Limitless

While oysters are great for the environment, they are also good for your body. Consumption of oysters has been shown to improve many different areas of one’s health. Just a few of the benefits include:

  • Promoting Weight Loss – Losing weight entails eating foods that offer the most nutrition with the fewest calories. Oysters are great in this respect because they offer a good amount of protein with a reduced caloric content.
  • Warding Off Heart Problems – Oysters can also be highly beneficial to heart health. Omega-3 fatty acids are important for reducing the amount of so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol in the blood stream. Since oysters are high in potassium, they’re also ideal for lowering blood pressure.
  • Improving Immune Function – Oysters contain many nutrients well-known for their anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. These nutrients are crucial for staying healthy and happy well into old age.
  • Boosting Your Body (and Libido) – Oysters are a great source of a number of necessary vitamins, from A through D. Because they are packed full of so many nutrients, oysters can offer quite an energy boost, for both your body and libido.

While oysters are replete with many wonderful health benefits, they should be consumed in moderation due to the increased salt content. It’s also a good idea to only consume oysters derived from reputable sources to ensure maximum quality.

Balance Is the Key to Sustainability

As technology advances, so do the ways in which people interact with the world. While commerce can be a good thing, it can’t come at the expense of the conservation, which is vital to maintaining the many varied ecosystems all over the planet. Oysters are just one facet of keeping this delicate balance in check. By ensuring their future success, many other species and environments may also be able to thrive.

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Lauren Hill

Lauren is currently a full time freelance writer who enjoys writing about an array of topics ranging from parenting and cooking to business and home improvement.

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