The Eastern oyster, Atlantic oyster, or the Virginia oyster, is a species of oyster that is native to the eastern seaboard and Gulf of Mexico coast of North America. It is also farmed in Puget Sound, Washington, where it is known as the Totten Inlet Virginica.
Eastern oysters are and have been very popular commercially. Like all oysters, the Eastern oyster is a bivalve mollusk with a hard calcium-carbonaceous shell. Its shell provides protection from predation. This particular type of oyster has an important environmental value. Like all oysters, it is a filter feeder. They suck in water and filter out the plankton and detritus to swallow, then spit the water back out, thus cleaning the water around them. One oyster can filter up to 48 gallons of water in 24 hours.
The Eastern oyster, like all members of the family Ostreidae, can make small pearls to surround particles that enter the shell. However these pearls are insignificant in size and of no value; the pearl oyster, from which commercial pearls are harvested, is of a different family.
The Eastern oyster thrives on reefs in water 8-25 feet deep on the Eastern coast of North America. Disease and habitat desecration has resulted in small populations and demand exceeds supply. They have thick, elongated, crescent-shaped shells with a slightly concave bottom and flat top. It combines sweet and a mineral finish in it's flavor.