Spondylus americanus oyster
Music, Video, and Aquarium
2010 Coral Morphologic
Here we look into the face of the thorny oyster (Spondylus americanus). Unlike most shallow-water oyster species, the thorny oyster is a solitary creature that lives permanently cemented to the deeper coral reef. Its fleshy mantle is adorned with sepia-toned psychedelic camouflage that can vary widely from one individual to the next. The rim of the mantle is lined with dozens of eyes that stare out into the depths. These eyes are quite simple, only detecting changes in light that might suggest an incoming predator. If a threat is detected, the oyster will quickly snap its two shells together, sealing the animal inside with its two powerful adductor muscles. It is the adductor muscle that people eat when they eat ‘oysters on the half shell’. Oysters are filter feeders, spending their time siphoning water through gills that strain out particulate matter. As seen in the film, the oyster periodically expels waste and water with a quick contraction of its adductor muscles.
In the second installment (next week) we will explore the upper shell of the oyster and the community of organisms that has colonized it.