What You Need To Know About Oysters: A Quiz





The WordPress daily prompt for January 14, 2014, was Connect the Dots: Open your nearest book to page 82. Take the third full sentence on the page, and work it into a post somehow.

I reached for the book nearest me, Fontaine Leval, by Frances Sergeant Childs, and opened it, searching for page 82.

Oops—this book has only has 38 pages. I returned it to its place by the computer and went to my bookshelf and viewed a section with six books. I pulled out the book with the oddest title: The Big Oyster by Mark Kurlansky. I turned to the third full sentence on page 82:

  •  A notice in December 1772 advertised “in the different slips of the harbor, no less than 600,000 oysters for sale.”

And I wondered what the state of the oyster is in 2015, 242 years later.

„The Lover of Oisters“

„The Lover of Oisters“

As we look back on 2014, the oyster had a great year…The oyster experienced a renaissance in 2014. So what’s in store for 2015?… there is no doubt that this oyster craze will continue… Numerous oyster bars are slated for 2015 openings and more consumers are having oysters for the first time…*

Thinking of oysters took me back to when I was waiting fly out of the Bangor, Maine, airport in the aftermath of the 1998 ice storm. While waiting I met a professor who was doing research on female clams.

“How can you tell if the clam is female or male?” I asked her.

“The coloring of part of the inside,” I recall her answering.

Remembering this conversation I became curious about differentiating between female and male oysters. And I realized I don’t know anything much about oysters.

Do you know much about oysters? Take the following quiz and you will learn more than you will ever need to know about them—including how to sex them.


  1. Why is the primary reason that the 2014-2015 oyster market booming?
  2. Why can oysters be unsafe to eat?
  3. How has dietary use of oysters changed between the early 19th century and 2015?
  4. What were Staten Island and Liberty Island and Ellis Island once called?
  5. Why were the New York oyster beds closed?
  6. What color is an oyster’s blood?
  7. How do you determine the sex of an oyster?
  8. How do oysters reproduce?
  9. How many gallons can an adult oyster filter in one day?
  10. For eons it’s been considered cliche that oysters make great aphrodisiacs. It was rumored that Casanova ate over 50 raw oysters a day to boost his libido. But are they truly an aphrodisiac?
  11. What is the most classic preparation of oysters?
  12. When and where was the last New York oyster bed closed?
  13. The word “aphrodisiac” was born when Aphrodite, the Greed goddess of love, sprang forth from the sea on a what?
  14. What nutritional value do oysters have?
  15. What three major organ systems does an oyster have?
  16. In the past, when the Bronx had a non-industrial coast, and the Brooklyn coast into Queens and Jamaica were all full of oysters, oysters were a tremendous natural resource that were sold everywhere and were identified with New York. If somebody said they were going to New York City, what was the typical response?
  17. When and how does an oyster produce a pearl?
  18. How many calories are in one dozen raw oysters?
  19. What two things might give credibility to the belief that oysters are aphrodisiacs ?
  20. How many eggs can the female oyster release during the spawning season?

To learn the answers click on MORE:


  1. Production has doubled over the last five years because of a growth of oyster farms and brands along the East Coast.*
  2. Oysters, not cared for properly, can become infected with Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a bacterium that naturally inhabits coastal waters in the United States and Canada where oysters are cultivated. When the appropriate conditions occur with regard to salt content and temperature, V. parahaemolyticus thrives.***
  3. In early 19th century, oysters were working man’s food and were found in plenty around New York. They are now considered posh only because global demand has far outstripped supply**
  4. Big and Little Oyster Island.****
  5. By the 1880’s, when people began understanding about germs, the cause of chronic epidemics in New York weren’t really understood. Once they began understanding about germs, they kept tracing the epidemics to oyster beds. One by one, with each disease outbreak, a bed was closed.  Eg. It became illegal to harvest them.****
  6. None, it is colorless.^^^
  7. One cannot distinguish between a male and a female oyster by examining their shells. Though oysters have different sexes, they can change their sex, one or more times, during their life span. Gonads are the organs responsible for producing eggs and sperm. These organs are made up of sex cells and surround their digestive organs.^^^^ Oysters first grow up as males and then they turn into females.**** While oysters have separate sexes, they may change sex one or more times during their life span.^^^
  8. With healthy water, a good bottom, enough food they grow up, become sexually mature, and spawn out. Both the males or females spawn gametes into the water, which fuse and form a larvae. There needs to be enough oysters in the water to provide enough larvae so they will settle.****
  9. 60 gallons.^^^
  10. This topic has been reviewed and disputed by many scientists. However, to date there is no known scientific proof stating that any supposed “aphrodisiac” actually results in an increase of sexual desire. According to John Renner, founder of the Consumer Health Information Research Institute (CHIRI) “The mind is the most potent aphrodisiac there is. It’s very difficult to evaluate something someone is taking because if you tell them it’s an aphrodisiac, the hope of a certain response might actually lead to an additional sexual reaction.”^
  11. Their most classic preparation is raw, also known as “on the half” when they are supposedly their most potent.^
  12. The last bed, which was in Raritan Bay between Staten Island and New Jersey, was closed in 1927.****
  13. On an oyster shell. Upon springing forth from the sea she promptly gave birth to Eros. Because Aphrodite was said to be born from the sea, many types of seafood have reputations as aphrodisiacs.^
  14. Oysters are a rich source of vitamin A, B, B2, B3, C and D. Six oysters a day meet the daily intake of iron, copper, iodine, magnesium, calcium, zinc, manganese and phosphorous.^^^^
  15. Respiratory, reproductive and digestive.^^^^
  16. ‘Enjoy the oysters!’****
  17. When foreign material becomes trapped inside the shell the oyster responds to the irritation by producing nacre, a combination of calcium and protein. The nacre coats the foreign material and over time produces a pearl.^^^
  18. Approximately 110 calories.^
  19. First, these slippery critters are full of zinc, which controls progesterone levels—which has a positive effect on the libido. Zinc deficiency can cause impotence in men, so any food rich in zinc is considered an aphrodisiac in that respect, and oysters happen to be loaded with the mineral.^^  Second, many believe oysters were originally labeled “aphrodisiac” because of their shape. Upon close inspection, they somewhat resemble the female sex organ.^^
  20. Well in excess of 1 million eggs.^^^ These eggs are stored in the gills and mantle cavity, which gets fertilized by sperm drawn in from the surrounding waters. The eggs are incubated within the oysters for 7-10 days, before being expelled.^^^^



*   December 09, 2014/ Connie Lu

**   http://beaverstreetfisheries.com/index.php/oysters.html

***   http://www.cdc.gov/vibrio/vibriop.html

****   http://www.wnyc.org/story/87218-welcome-to-new-york-enjoy-the-oysters/

^   http://www.sixwise.com/newsletters/06/02/16/are-oysters-really-aphrodisiacs.htm

^^ http://www.askmen.com/sports/foodcourt/56_eating_well.html

^^^   http://www.strange-facts.info/interesting-oyster-facts

^^^^   http://lifestyle.iloveindia.com/lounge/facts-about-oyster-8511.html





About carolyncholland

In several if my nine lives I have been a medical lab technician and a human service worker specializing in child day care, adoptions and family abuse. Currently I am a photo/journalist/writer working on a novel and a short story. My general writings can be viewed at www.carolyncholland.wordpress.com. My novel site is www.intertwinedlove.wordpress.com.
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3 Responses to What You Need To Know About Oysters: A Quiz

  1. merry101 says:

    Oysters…not a favorite of mine…but interesting to read more about them.


  2. Grace ( & Fred) Wells says:

    During my 13 years of being a science teacher for grades 7 – 11, we dissected clams as part of our zoology study of mollusks. wish I’d had Carolyn’s list to share with the classes then !


  3. Grace ( & Fred) Wells says:

    I think fact #7 would have been their favorite !


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