Go Forth and Slurp…for the Health of Puget Sound
Every time we eat a locally grown oyster, we remove nitrogen from the Sound
Oysters are extremely important because they filter nutrients out of the water and convert them into a local protein source or make them available for uptake by other species such as eelgrass.
Here’s how it works
Oysters and other bivalve shellfish are filter feeders. When clams and oysters feed on phytoplankton, they remove nitrogen from the water column and increase light penetration. People contribute vastly more nutrients than most marine systems can handle – mostly in the form of fertilizers and waste products that fuel algae growth and lead to oxygen depletion and clouded waters. Without shellfish in these waters, we would be hard pressed to manage the effects of excess nutrient inputs.
When we harvest clams and oysters we remove nitrogen from the system. Each small oyster contains approximately 0.5 to 1 gram of nitrogen. Each human contributes approximately 10 grams of nitrogen a day (or 3,800 grams a year). Slurping a dozen oysters a day would therefore come very close to mitigating our individual nitrogen contribution for the entire year. Clearly, we’ve got a lot of slurping to do. Lucky for us, there are plenty of locally-grown oysters with which to satisfy both our stomachs and our conscience. (Thanks to Dr. Joth Davis with Baywater, Inc. for assistance with these calculations.)
Water quality plays an important role in harvesting local shellfish. Click here to find out ways you can help improve water quality.
If you are planning on harvesting your own shellfish, visit Washington Department of Health’s map to check for harvesting closure.
For shellfish harvesting regulations and limits, visit Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Become a member of a community shellfish farm
- Drayton Harbor Community Oyster Farm
- Henderson Inlet Community Shellfish Farm
- Port Madison Community Shellfish Farm
Buy Community Grown Oysters
Oysters from each farm are available seasonally at various retail outlets. Please refer to specific farm pages to learn more. Proceeds from the farms support local water quality improvement projects.
Grow Your Own
Sign up to become a Shellfish Gardener and raise your own oysters, clams, and mussels.
Ask for locally harvested shellfish at your favorite restaurants and grocery stores!
Oyster New Year Party
Come to the annual Oyster New Year party at Elliot's Oyster House. More information...