Down to Earth

Oysters are delicious and nutritious. They are also a keystone species and an ecosystem engineer, which means that they provide habitat for all kinds of other species, and they filter and clean the water around them, cycle nutrients, and even remove pollutants. Native to many parts of the world, Atlantic oysters are a species found from Louisiana to Maine, and can be harvested all year round.
Rick Karney is a shellfish biologist and Director Emeritus of Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group. Alex Friedman is owner of Snows Point oyster farm.

Oyster and shellfish resources:
East Coast Shellfish Growers Association
Chesapeake Oyster Alliance
Nature Conservancy SOAR: Supporting Oyster Aquaculture and Restoration
Louisiana Oyster Task Force
Billion Oyster Project

Scientific American, “When the Sea Saved Humanity”
Nova: “Becoming Human”
Science Direct: “Marine and terrestrial foods as a source of brain-selective nutrients for early modern humans in the southwestern Cape, South Africa”

A Geography of Oysters: The Connoisseur’s Guide to Oyster Eating in North America by Rowan Jacobsen
The Living Shore by Rowan Jacobsen
Sex, Death and Oysters by Robb Walsh
American Catch by Paul Greenberg

2’15 Special feature: The Good Meat Project
9’25 how Alex started oyster farming
11’14 the role of oysters for biodiversity and cleaning the water
13’18 oysters building reefs for tide and erosion control
14’10 who eats oysters–besides people
15’20 shells are habitat for new generations of oysters
16’17 different ways of farming oysters
19’09 variations in farmed oysters
20’00 influencing the shape of the oyster
22’28 resilience of oysters
23’51 the greatest threats to oysters
25’27 why are there more oyster diseases now
26’11 the process of shellfish/habitat restoration
29’21 the relationship between oyster farmers and restoration efforts
32’36 differences between wild and farmed oysters
35’54 oysters being used to clean polluted coastal areas
36’27 cleaning up algal blooms from too much nitrogen
38’23 oysters clean polluted waters but are not edible
41’51 the food culture of oysters
46’51 theory that shellfish contributed to the deveopment of the human brain
48’47 the difficulties and rewards of oyster farming