Ostrea edulis


Common Oysters (also known as native oysters) live on the firm, muddy or sandy seabed in shallow water, where they filter feed on plankton and detritus. Oysters start life as males, but when they mature at about 10 months old, they can change sex regularly depending on the temperature of the water.

How to identify

A large, flattened, clam-like shell. The outside of the Oyster is flaky, scaly and dark grey, but the inside is the beautiful 'mother of pearl'.

Where to find it

Found on sandy and muddy shores, predominately in the west and south-west of the UK.


When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Oysters suffered from massive over-harvesting in the 19th century and are under threat today from disease and invasive species, such as the Slipper Limpet. You can help Oysters and other marine species by being careful about what you choose in the supermarket - go for sustainably produced fish and shellfish, preferably with the Marine Stewardship Council's logo.

Species information

Common name
Latin name
Ostrea edulis
Length: up to 11cm Average Lifespan: 6 years
Conservation status
Classified as a Priority Species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.