The Shellfish Glossary

Find definitions for commonly used terms in the shellfish industry.

 

B

Bottom
S
urface or terrain whereon oysters grow (i.e. reef, sand, rock, or silt).

Bottom-culture
Cultivating oysters by planting oysters loosely on the bottom during growout.

Brine
The salty liquor of an oyster. - briny: of or resembling brine; salty.

Byssal Thread
Strong fibers used by mussels and other bivalves to attach to surfaces. Commonly known as the "beard."

C

Cage
Metal apparatus that holds nursery bags of oyster seed to protect from predators.

cages.jpg

Cage-culture
Cultivating oysters in cages during growout.

Cull
To select and sort oysters by quality and size.

D

Declump [mussels]
To clean and separate mussels, either by machine or hand, into individual mussels as they naturally grow in clumps.

Downweller
A water flow system usually used to set spat on microcultch. Click on the diagram to see more details.

Drag
To harvest shellfish by dragging a rake and bag attached to a boat across the ocean bottom.

dragging.jpg

F

Finish
The final taste impression of an oyster.

Fouling
Planktonic or larvae that colonize the surface area of an oyster's shell. Organisms include barnacles, tunicates, and tube worms.

 

G

Grade
To class or sort oysters dependent on size, shape, and quality.

Growout
The time in which the oyster grows from seed to market size.

H

Hatchery
A facility that spawns and fertilizes oysters to produce oyster seed.

L

Liquor
The liquid in an oyster.

Longline
A long cable anchored into the ocean bottom that bags or equipment can attach to.

M

Merroir
An oyster's characteristic taste and flavor imparted by its environment. Similar to the "terroir" of wine.

N

Negative tide
An unusually low tide that exposes the ocean bottom.

Nursery
A filter-feed system that protects and nourishes baby oysters to a healthy size.

P

Phytoplankton
Plankton consisting of microscopic plants that oysters feed on.

Plant
To place shellfish on the ocean bottom.

Purge
To remove grit or clean shellfish by soaking in water to filter through.

R

Rack-and-bag culture
Cultivating oysters in bags that sit on racks.

RackandBag.jpg

Rake
Harvest oysters by using a shellfish rake.

 

S

Select
Highest grade of oysters.

Sieve
Sort oysters with mesh screens.

Spat
Baby oysters after they have set or attached to a growing surface.

Spawn
The release of shellfish eggs and sperm into the water column. Shellfish tend to be weakest after spawning.

Standard
The lowest grade of market size oysters. Size and oyster shape may very. 

Surface-culture
Cultivating oysters in floating trays, bags, or rafts.

Suspended Culture
Cultivating oysters in suspended trays, bags, or rafts. Oysters do not touch the ocean bottom or float at the surface.

Tumble
Promote uniform and strong shell growth by chiseling its shell in a tumbler. See video here.

Upweller
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.

upweller.jpg

Vibrio parahaemolyticus
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 set
Wild oysters naturally set on ocean bottom or spat collectors.