Oysters were once an important food source in the Bay Area, and are one of the types of shells that comprise local shellmounds. Author Jack London was an oyster pirate in his youth, raiding the oyster beds near Oakland and Alameda. He later switched sides and worked for the fish patrol to stop oyster pirates.
Note that current pollution levels make oysters from the Bay unsuitable for human consumption.
The species native to San Francisco Bay and the west coast is the Olympia oyster, Ostrea lurida. The original oysters in the Bay were smaller than their cousins later introduced from Washington state, and are often described as having a coppery taste. The larger Washington ones have a milder flavor.
The numbers have fluctuated over the years, but there is an effort underway to reestablish them in larger numbers to help the ecosystem. 1,2
Links and References
- Ostrea lurida on Wikipedia
- Native oysters need help coming back to the Bay. Chickens are pitching in Oaklandside July 12, 2023
- Wild Oyster Project website
- Opening up about oysters East Bay Yesterday podcast
- The San Francisco Bay Once Teemed With Oysters. What Happened? Bay Curious, KQED March 4, 2021
- The Last Oyster Bay Nature May 20, 2014
- Olympian Dreams altaonline.com
- An ancient mound of shells has been mined in the San Francisco Bay for 100 years — but the oyster’s future is uncertain San Jose Mercury News March 21, 2023