Creatures of the South Louisiana Estuary: The Oyster
©2010 Wetland Books – May not be copied in any way without permission
My name is Meau, (moe), and I am an oyster. Would you like me to tell you the story of my life?
Many years ago, the mighty Mississippi River flooded south Louisiana. Every spring, the water overflowed the banks of the bayous and left behind lots of mud. The mud formed rich new land called a delta.
Along that delta is the very special place where the sweet water of the bayous meets up with the salty water of the Gulf of Mexico, and it is called an estuary. This is where my life story begins.
The estuary is a magical place where lots of water creatures are born and raised–sort of like you and your town. The water here is the perfect balance of freshwater and saltwater for us oysters.
My neighborhood, on the bottom of the estuary, is called a reef. My reef is made up of oyster shells and sometimes limestone, which was put there by humans to help me grow my strong shell.
In the warm summer months, my mother oyster released her eggs into the perfect estuary water at the same time my father oyster released his fertilizer. The egg and fertilizer joined together and formed a very tiny living thing called a larva.
In my larva stage, I floated around in the water current for about a day until I grew a tiny shell around myself. After floating for about three weeks like that, I grew a foot and then sank to the bottom. My little foot helped me scoot along the reef until I found just the right spot as my home.
I attached to a smooth piece of limestone, and then I was called a spat. To eat, I opened up and let the water flow in. I took the stuff I liked and spit out the rest, and I even helped filter the water, too.
When the water levels drop low, I close up tight so I won’t dry out. Pretty neat, huh?
We oysters are amazing marine animals of the estuary, and oyster reefs are amazing estuary neighborhoods.