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The Life of an Oyster

Note: This is part 2/2 of a series ocean circulation and biology. See Rubber ducks demonstrate ocean circulation for part 1.

Author Information

  • Name: Emily Kunselman
  • Position and Institution: Graduate Student, Scripps Institution of Oceanography
  • Contact:
  • Available for contact for questions and classroom visits: Yes
  • Year contributed: 2020


  • Grade Level: K-5
  • Science Domain: Life Sciences, Physical Sciences
  • PE Code: 4-LS1-1, 3-PS2-1


How do oysters move around the ocean if they are stuck to rocks as adults? As babies (aka larvae), oysters are free floating in the ocean. They are moved around by ocean currents! In order to find food, larvae can move up or down in the water and filter small photosynthetic plankton. However, the ocean currents are what carry them to a new location. Oysters are often found in estuaries, which is where the ocean and freshwater meet. After about 2 weeks, oysters will start to sink further down and eventually find the bottom of the estuary or river. They will try to find a suitable hard substrate and then they will start growing their shell and anchor themselves to that surface. Have your students try to find a hard surface that the oyster can grow on!


  • Ocean currents
  • external structures
  • forces
  • dispersal
  • biology
  • physics


sandiego/the_life_of_an_oyster.txt · Last modified: 2020/10/27 13:57 (external edit)