There are several distinct methods of reproduction for oysters.
The first, found in the European and Olympia oyster, is that they can be hermaphrodites. They have both eggs and sperm, so all reproduction occurs within the single oyster. The eggs are fertilized then moved into the gills of the oyster until “shell-bearing larvae are formed.”
The American bluepoint oyster on the other hand has a male or a female sex. The females “discharge millions of eggs into the water, where fertilization occurs.” Once the larvae have developed (in a few hours), they swim for several weeks then stick to stones or shells. They are mature within a year.
Oysters reproduce via external fertilization. The process typically occurs in summer waters (75 Fahrenheit) and begins when an oyster releases pheromones into the water. This signals other proximal oysters to begin as well. Female oysters release eggs, male oysters release sperm, and they fuse in the water. Female oysters releases approximately 5 million eggs, while males release up to 2.69 billion sperm. Typically 1 million larva make it through their first few weeks of life’s challenging water conditions and predators.
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