Eastern Oyster
Crassostrea virginica

Closed Eastern oyster with rough texture and dark spots on a brown shell. Open Eastern oyster with mother-of-pearl interior and translucent tissues and organs inside.

© Sergey Shcherbakov/ Dreamstime

Oysters are farmed in Atlantic and Pacific waters. Along with the Eastern oysters, farmers on the West Coast also grow Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas).

Lines of oyster cages floating on the water’s surface, as seen from the back of a boat.

Bouctouche Bay Industries (BBI Group)

Some farmers grow oysters in floating cages. Cage-grown oysters are plumper, and have an appealing shape that consumers like.

Good to Know . . .

Man leaning over the side of a boat to flip an oyster cage. In the background, there are rows of unflipped cages with buoys exposed, keeping the cages below the waterline.

Bouctouche Bay Industries (BBI Group)

Floating oyster cages are flipped regularly to expose the oysters to air. This prevents too many barnacles, algae, and other sea creatures from growing on them.

A worker stands between two rows of white circular tanks at an indoor facility, checking a clear plastic pipe leading to one of the tanks.

PEI Aquaculture Alliance

Many oyster seeds are produced in hatcheries. These special farms breed and nurture oyster seeds until they are big enough to be sold to growers.

Rows of grey disks covered in small grey miniature oysters.

© Bidouze Stéphane/Dreamstime

Some oyster producers collect wild oyster seeds from the ocean. They use spat collectors such as this (oyster seeds are also called “spat”) to attract oyster larvae.

Close-up of an oyster with its shell open a couple of millimetres, in a tank surrounded by other oysters.


Oysters get all the nutrients they need by drawing seawater in through their gills and filtering out microscopic creatures and algae. This helps to clean the water by capturing excess nutrients.