Oyster Culture Cycle

Education on the Halfshell: Oyster Culture Cycle

Using Oysters to Teach Biological Concepts

Lesson Goal

Students will understand how an oyster hatchery is run and why it is a valuable resource for the economy. This lesson provides an overview of the oyster hatchery at Grand Isle, Louisiana.

Lesson Objective

Students will be able to:

1. Investigate the oyster hatchery business
2. Examine the production methods of the oyster hatchery
3. Study the reasons why the oyster hatchery business is so important

Background information

Louisiana is consistently ranked one of the country’s top two oyster producers. With 22.2 million pounds produced (1998), oysters represent 6% of Louisiana seafood production. Oyster farming on private leases provides half of the state’s production, with the other half coming from public seed grounds managed by the state. Oyster production and processing provide approximately 4,800 jobs in Louisiana.

Since the oyster industry is such an important one for Louisiana, it is crucial that oyster production be encouraged. One way of doing this is through an oyster hatchery, which will help contribute to a sustainable oyster population in Louisiana.

This lesson outlines what you need to know about oyster culture cycle from hatchery site selection to oyster grow-out. It contains an overview of oyster farming with a specific emphasis on the oyster hatchery located on Grand Isle, Louisiana, under the supervision of Dr. John Supan, Assistant Research Professor, Louisiana Sea Grant College Program, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge LA 70803.

Teacher Preparation

Run off Blackline Master 1: background information sheet and stages of the oyster culture cycle. Then cut apart each stage of the cycle including the production business (remote setting, nursery, grow-out). Give each student group one section to present. Blackline Master 2 may be helpful during the students’ preparation for their presentation. Students will work in groups to present the information to the rest of the class. Optional: Encourage your students to do internet searches to broaden their understanding of the oyster hatchery business and incorporate what they find into their presentations.

Each student will fill in an Oyster Cycle Flowchart (Blackline Master 3) and an Oyster Culture Cycle Worksheet during the presentations (Blackline Master 4). They will answer the questions for each stage after each presentation. The group presenting will assist with this.

Worksheets will be turned in for class credit and may be used as a study guide for a quiz.

Each groups presentation should be graded on participation, accurate information, use of rational thought, and appropriateness of the material presented.

Blackline Masters

Life Cycle of the American Oyster (PDF)

Alternative Assessments

  • Develop a graphic organizer of the hatchery and give a presentation of it.
  • Investigate other methods used to grow oysters.

Answer Keys

Extension Ideas

  • Try to grow your own oysters on a small scale. Contact Dr. John Supan for help.
  • Investigate what steps you need to go through to start your own oyster hatchery. Get copies of forms needed.
  • Compare the processes of an east coast hatchery with those of a west coast hatchery, or the processes of an American hatchery with one in Japan. Use the internet as a resource for the report.

Resources and web links

Dugas, Ronald J. History and Status of the Oyster, Crassostrea virginica, and Other Molluscan Fisheries of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. U.S. Dept. of Commerce, NOAA Tech. Rep. #127, pp. 187-210.

Gorman, Carolyn Portier, and Deborah Schultz. Self-Guided Tours Of The Barataria-Terrebonne Estuary For Classroom and Citizen Groups. Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program, 1999.

Coleman, Elizabeth. The Oyster Industry: Seizing A Better Future. Louisiana Sea Grant College Program, Coast & Sea, Spring 2000, Vol. 8, No. 1. pp. 3-9.

Jones, David, and Allen K, Standish, Jr. Part 1 – Technical Aspects of Rack And Bag Oyster Culture In Delaware Bay. Oyster Grow-Out Techniques For the Mid-Atlantic: A Delaware Bay Model. Rutgers University. Port Norris, NJ. February 1993.

Correlations to the Louisiana & the National Science Education Standards

Louisiana Science Frameworks
Middle School Benchmarks High School Benchmarks
  • LS-M-A1-A4
  • LS-M-B1-B3
  • LS-M-C2-4
  • SE-M-A1, A2, A4, A5, A7, A8
  • SI-M-A4-A7
  • SI-M-B1-7
  • LS-H-A1-A3
  • LS-H-B1-B4
  • LS-H-D1-D4
  • LS-H-E1, E3
  • LS-H-F1-F4
  • SE-H-A1-A11
  • SE-H-B3
  • SI-H-A1,A3-6
  • SI-H-B1-B5
National Science Education Standards
Middle School Standards High School Standards
  • UC&P – Evidence, models & processes
  • SI – Abilities necessary to do science inquiry
  • LS – Reproduction & heredity
  • ST – Understandings about science and tech


  • UC&P – Evidence, models & processes
  • SI – Abilities necessary to do science inquiry
  • LS – Behavior of organisms
  • ST – Understandings about science and tech.