Leave “exploiting oysters” off your summer bucket list. These bivalves are a vital part of their environment, and activities like pearl diving—in which divers take oysters from the ocean to crack them open for pearls—can disrupt the delicate balance of the ocean’s ecosystems. Like all our fellow animals, oysters deserve to exist peacefully.
What’s Wrong With Pearl Diving?
Bivalves such as oysters, clams, and mussels are a crucial component of the ocean’s health. As they suck in water to feed on bacteria and phytoplankton, they also ingest pollutants and other harmful chemicals and send the filtered water back into the sea. One oyster can filter 50 gallons of water a day. Cracking open an oyster to remove their pearl can kill them or cause them considerable stress. Much like turtles, oysters hide inside their tightly shut shells when they sense danger.
Oysters produce pearls as a way of protecting themselves from foreign substances. When an irritant—such as a parasite or a grain of sand—enters their shell, oysters secrete minerals that form a pearl over time. Removing it from an oyster leaves them vulnerable to the elements, increasing their chances of contracting a disease. It can also weaken them, rendering them defenseless to predators.
Why You Shouldn’t Support Pearl-Diving Shows
While most pearl diving occurs in oysters’ natural homes, SeaWorld’s pearl-diving shows turn the activity into a sad spectacle for visitors, who watch divers sink into a tank and gather oysters to crack open. Oysters’ pearls are an important part of their bodies’ defense mechanisms—not an object to be stolen and sold.
Let Bivalves Be Bivalves
Oysters and other bivalves deserve compassion and don’t exist for humans to eat, exploit, or crack open for decorative jewelry. It’s speciesist to kill them for their pearls or to eat them. You can help by never participating in pearl-diving attractions and by telling SeaWorld to stop exploiting other animals.