Cage-grown oysters are exactly what they sound like! These oysters are grown in cages off the bottom of a waterway or floats on the surface. Cages are often used until oysters reach an age suitable for bottom-planting.
The majority of Maryland Seafood Co-op oysters are bottom-grown using natural grow-out techniques, and offer a delicious variety of flavor profiles. They offer thicker, larger shells, making it easier to shuck a tasty half dozen served in-shell for happy hour! Bottom-grown oysters are a central part of the Chesapeake ecosystem and provide a natural habitat for crabs, fish, and other organisms. They are the result of spat distributed over existing oyster beds and left to mature naturally. Then, they are harvested using various methods, including dredging.
Bivalve: Refers to a marine or freshwater mollusk such as clams, oysters, scallops and mussels with a body enclosed by a two-hinged shell
bottom shell: The cupped side of an oyster, also known as the left valve
bushel: A unit of volume measurement, referring to the bushel baskets sometimes used to harvest oysters
diploid: A natural, sterile oyster that has two chromosomes
larvae: Free-swimming organisms created by spawning
spat: Oyster larvae attached to a surface (generations of spat form oyster beds)
spawning: When male and female oysters release sperm and eggs into the water where sperm can fertilize eggs and create larvae which float and feed for two to three weeks before swimming to the bottom and attaching to a shell or other hard material. At the time that they attach to a material they become spat. Less than a fraction of a percent of oyster larvae will set and become an oyster
triploid: A sterile oyster that has three chromosomes instead of two, Triploid oysters grow more quickly than diploid (regular) oysters because they don’t spend energy reproducing and they stay firm all summer
top shell: Also known as the right valve, the top shell is flat