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Pacific Oyster - (Crassostrea gigas) Photographs and Information

Oysters have always been linked with love. When Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, sprang forth from the sea on an oyster shell and promptly gave birth to Eros, the word "aphrodisiac" was born.

Why are Oysters the Food of Love? Oysters are rich in vitamins and minerals, especially zinc, which is implicated in the production of testosterone. They are also a source of dopamine, which amplifies the intensity of sensation. Serve Oysters on Valentine's Day!

Other common names: Pacific king oyster, Pacific rock oyster

Pacific oysters are endemic to Japan, but have been introduced into a number of other countries including Australia. Most of these introductions have been for the purposes of aquaculture, with Pacific oysters the most widely cultured shellfish species worldwide.

Pacific oysters were first introduced into south-eastern and western Australian waters for aquaculture. They later found their way into NSW waters, where they have spread and invaded intertidal habitats of many waterways.

Pacific oysters are a hardy species with fast growth and high reproductive rates. This has allowed them to establish dense populations in some areas, often displacing native intertidal species.

Although Pacific oysters are the basis of an important aquaculture industry in Port Stephens, elsewhere they have caused significant problems for oyster farmers who culture native Sydney rock oysters (Saccostrea glomerata). As the two species live and spawn in the same locations, Pacific oysters can settle on and (due to their faster growth rate) smother farmed Sydney rock oysters.

Pacific oysters are plankton feeders that filter minute marine algae and other microorganisms out of the water.

pacific oyster, half shell oyster, oyster in shell, pacific king oyster, pacific rock oyster

Scientific Name Crassostrea gigas
Location -
Season -
Size -
Australian Species Code -
Taste, Texture -

oyster1.jpg (5731 bytes)

Did you know? Pacific oysters can live up to 10 years and reach an average size of 150-200 mm.

Did you know? A group of oysters is called a "bed"

Nutritional Information
For every 100 grams raw product
for Oyster fillet.

Kilojoules 378 (90 calories)
Protein 11.1 g
Cholesterol 27 mg
Sodium 106 mg
Total fat (oil) 1.0 g
Saturated fat 30% of total fat
Monounsaturated fat 13% of total fat
Polyunsaturated fat 57% of total fat
Omega-3, EPA 136 mg
Omega-3, DHA 142 mg
Omega-6, AA 30 mg


POMS - Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome

What is POMS?
Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome only affects Pacific Oysters. It is a virus (OsHV-1 micro variant) that kills the oyster within hours. It can wipe out an entire oyster colony in less than 36 hours.

Does POMS affect all oysters?
No, Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome only affects Pacific Oysters (Crassostrea gigas) it does not affect Sydney Rock Oysters (Saccostrea commercialis), or Australian Native Oysters (Ostrea angasi).

How does POMS kill Pacific Oysters?
Oysters are Bi-valves with 2 shells. The POMS virus weakens the oyster causing the valves to open. They die within a few hours. POMS causes 100% mortality in juvenile Pacific Oysters (called spats)

Where is POMS in Australia?
POMS (Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome) was first discovered in the Georges River (NSW) in November 2010. Three months later it had spread to the Parramatta River, west of Sydney, NSW. In January 2013, it was found in Pacific Oysters in the Hawkesbury River, north of Sydney, NSW. Now, in early February, 2016, the virus has been detected in Tasmania.

Where else is Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome found?
POMS was first found in France in 2008. The virus is now found in Spain, the Netherlands, Denmark and New Zealand.

Can Humans catch POMS?
No, POMS is not transmittable to humans.


Pacific oysters are bivalve molluscs belonging to the family Ostreidae. They are native to northeast Asia (including Japan), but have been translocated and spread widely throughout many countries (including the UK, France, USA, Canada, Korea, China and New Zealand) for the purpose of aquaculture.

Pacific oysters have a fairly thin shell with no hinge teeth on the inner, upper shell (unlike Sydney rock oysters). The adductor muscle (which holds the two shells together) is purple or brown in colour, whilst the edges of the mantle (the tissue which secretes and lines the shell) are black.

Adult Pacific oysters are sessile and will settle on any hard substrate in the inter-tidal and shallow subtidal zones, to a depth of about 3 metres. They favour brackish waters in sheltered estuaries, although they tolerate a wide range of salinities and water quality and can also occur offshore.

Pacific oysters have very high growth rates (they can grow to over 75 mm in their first 18 months) and high rates of reproduction.

Like most oyster species, Pacific oysters change sex during their life, usually spawning first as a male and subsequently as a female. Spawning is temperature dependent and occurs in the summer months. Pacific oyster females can produce between 30 to 40 million eggs per spawning, often giving the surrounding water a milky appearance. Fertilisation takes place in the water column.

The larvae are planktonic and free swimming, developing for three to four weeks before finding a suitable clean hard surface to settle on. Although they usually attach to rocks, they can also settle in muddy or sandy areas (where they attach to small stones, shell fragments or other debris) or on top of other adult oysters. A very small percentage of oysters survive this phase; those that do are called "spat".


Pacific Oyster Shell Top Pacific Oyster Opened
Pacific Oyster Shell Top Pacific Oyster Opened
- -
Pacific Oyster Meats Pasteurised Pacific Oyster in juice
Pacific Oyster Meats Pasteurised Pacific Oysters in Juice

Cooking Pacific Oysters:

Oysters have a strong, rich and distinctive flavour and a soft, silky texture. They are often served raw, but deep frying, shallow frying and grilling are also popular. Pacific oysters are particularly good in pies.

The key to not overcooking oysters is to ensure that cooking stops as soon as the edges of the meat start to curl.

Raw or au naturel oyster can create precious portions such as: with lemon juice and cracked pepper; topped with tabasco sauce, tomato, garlic and cream; in the famous Bloody Mary tomato juice spiced with vodka; swimming in a sauce of lime, ginger and shallots; or Stuart Prosser's tartare, which incorporates horseradish and creme fraeche.

Grilled oysters can be tantalisingly topped with: the traditional Kilpatrick; fresh herbs and breadcrumbs; or balsamic vinegar and roasted capsicum.

Deep fried oysters in batter can be served with basil, aioli or spicy soy dressings (an appetising additive to warm salads).

Alternatively, try blending oysters with bechamel and serve in bread or pastry cups for hors doeuvres, or include them in soups and bisques.

Bottled oysters can be used in cooked dishes such as soups, terrines and braised dishes.



How to open (shuck) Oysters:

Opening (Shucking) Oysters:
Scrub the Oysters under running water to clean shells.  Place Oyster, flat side up, on a board and press onto end opposite hinge using a cloth to protect hand.  Insert tip of oyster knife next to hinge, push firmly against hinge and pry the shells apart, sliding the knife against the inside of the top shell to sever the muscle holding the shell together.  Discard top shell, rinse Oyster in bottom shell lightly in a bowl of cold water to remove shell fragments and grit.  With Oyster knife, loosen Oyster from bottom shell and turn it over for good presentation.

How to shuck an Oyster
Sydney Fish Market takes you through how to tell the difference between a Sydney Rock Oyster and a Pacific Oyster, what to look for, how to prepare and store them. Not to mention how to shuck your own!

Store live oysters, clams and mussels in the refrigerator. Keep damp by placing in shallow bowl with a wet paper towel draped over them.  Don't store an oyster on its side. Every so often, it will relax and open up a bit. If it's sitting on its side, it could lose all its liquid which is vital for flavour. 

Keep fresh shucked oysters, scallops and clams in their own container and store in the refrigerator. For best results, surround the container with ice.

Oyster Strudel Beef with Oysters and Guinness Oysters Rockefeller Prosciutto-Wrapped Duck
& Oyster Appetizer

Commercial Farming of Pacific Oysters: (from Marine Education Society of Australasia)

They are farmed in Tasmania and South Australia and in Port Stephens in New South Wales. In South Australia, the total direct business turnover of oyster farming was almost $31 million in 2002/03. Of this, $16.1 million was from the farm gate and the rest from processing, transport, retail and food service industries. 320 people were directly employed in oyster farming. Most of the oysters are grown in Coffin Bay, north-west of Port Lincoln.

Pacific Oyster hatcheries are built on land. Sexually mature oysters spawn in the hatchery then
the larvae and spat are grown until they reach a size suitable for on-growing in a nursery site. As well, the hatcheries need to grow large amount of different types of microalgae to feed the developing oysters.
As the oysters grow they settle crushed shells, then sieves are used to remove them from the tanks and they are moved to indoor nursery tanks. Once the spat reach 3 to 15mm in length they are sold to farmers for on-growing in intertidal or subtidal sites.

There are a number of methods for growing the spat. These include:

Intertidal racks and baskets
Rectangular shaped baskets, made from tough polypropylene mesh, are attached to the
racks by two 1m long wooden sticks (approximately ). The racks are made of wooden
posts (uprights) which are drilled vertically into the seabed to provide support. Attached to these are more wooden posts which run parallel to the seabed and hold up the baskets

Intertidal racks and trays
Instead of baskets, trays are used. These provide greater protection for the growing oysters. The trays are made of wooden frames with mesh covering attached to the racks.

Intertidal Long-lines
In this method, ;onglines and bags are used to on-grow oysters. The bags are made of polypropylene mesh; cylindrical in shape, 90cm length x 15cm diameter, and hung on a wire suspended by wooden uprights. The height of the wire can be adjusted so the oyster bags can be lowered or raised depending on the tide.

Subtidal Long-lines
In some parts of SA, farmers have access to sub-tidal sites where sub-surface or surface
longlines are used to suspend a series of stacked trays (approximately 1.5 x 1.5m). These
longlines are attached to the sea-bed and supported by buoys.


Exporters of Pacific Oysters  |  Importers of Pacific Oysters  |  Processors of Pacific Oysters  |
Wholesale Suppliers of Pacific Oysters  |  Seafood Agents for Pacific Oysters  | 
Aquaculture Farmers of Pacific Oysters


extra large south australian oysters, pacific oysters from australia

More links about Pacific Oysters

Australian Government - Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (PDF file) - Australian Fisheries Statistics 2010/2011



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