An Ode to the Oyster

Estuary background image with color overlay


In this activity, students sort oyster reef organisms to identify the many types of organisms that live in an oyster reef and form the reef community. Students then create a mural showing the oyster reef and organisms commonly found there. Students then dissect an oyster to explore its anatomy. Finally as part of a role-playing exercise, students become biologists whose assignment is to uncover what is causing the decline in an oyster population and then to propose a solution to the problem.

This activity has three parts:

  1. Oyster Reef Community
  2. Oyster Dissection
  3. Save the Oyster Reef

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Students should understand that:

  • Oysters live with other organisms near the shore and can form oyster reefs.
  • Reef oysters are adapted to live within the dynamic, stressful intertidal environment.
  • Oysters are economically important in coastal regions. Oysters are also environmentally important in that they remove pollutants from the water and oyster reefs help protect marsh shorelines from erosion.
  • Populations of oysters that form oyster reefs have been reduced by pollution, excess sediment in the water, over-fishing, and by loss of areas of hard substrate on which to grow.
  • Oyster reef restoration and controls on over-harvesting of oysters can slow or stop the decline in the reef oyster population.

An Ode to the Oyster: Supporting Resources

SCORE for Oysters