The Shellfish Glossary
Find definitions for commonly used terms in the shellfish industry.
Download a printable version here.
Surface or terrain whereon oysters grow (i.e. reef, sand, rock, or silt).
Cultivating oysters by planting oysters loosely on the bottom during growout.
The salty liquor of an oyster. - briny: of or resembling brine; salty.
Strong fibers used by mussels and other bivalves to attach to surfaces. Commonly known as the "beard."
Metal apparatus that holds nursery bags of oyster seed to protect from predators.
Cultivating oysters in cages during growout.
To select and sort oysters by quality and size.
To clean and separate mussels, either by machine or hand, into individual mussels as they naturally grow in clumps.
A water flow system usually used to set spat on microcultch. Click on the diagram to see more details.
To harvest shellfish by dragging a rake and bag attached to a boat across the ocean bottom.
The final taste impression of an oyster.
Planktonic or larvae that colonize the surface area of an oyster's shell. Organisms include barnacles, tunicates, and tube worms.
To class or sort oysters dependent on size, shape, and quality.
The time in which the oyster grows from seed to market size.
A facility that spawns and fertilizes oysters to produce oyster seed.
The liquid in an oyster.
A long cable anchored into the ocean bottom that bags or equipment can attach to.
An oyster's characteristic taste and flavor imparted by its environment. Similar to the "terroir" of wine.
An unusually low tide that exposes the ocean bottom.
A filter-feed system that protects and nourishes baby oysters to a healthy size.
Plankton consisting of microscopic plants that oysters feed on.
To place shellfish on the ocean bottom.
To remove grit or clean shellfish by soaking in water to filter through.
Cultivating oysters in bags that sit on racks.
Harvest oysters by using a shellfish rake.
Highest grade of oysters.
Sort oysters with mesh screens.
Baby oysters after they have set or attached to a growing surface.
The release of shellfish eggs and sperm into the water column. Shellfish tend to be weakest after spawning.
The lowest grade of market size oysters. Size and oyster shape may vary.
Cultivating oysters in floating trays, bags, or rafts.
Cultivating oysters in suspended trays, bags, or rafts. Oysters do not touch the ocean bottom or float at the surface.
Promote uniform and strong shell growth by chiseling its shell in a tumbler. See video here.
A water flow system that pushes nutrient rich water up through the nursery or silos to feed oyster seed. Can be an open or closed system. See "Downwell" for diagram.
Naturally occurring bacteria in the ocean that can contaminate oysters and cause foodborne illnesses when consumed in high concentrations. For more details, please refer to the Newsroom page.
Wild oysters naturally set on ocean bottom or spat collectors.