Oysters are a bivalve mollusk with a number of defenses to protect themselves from predators, irritants and disease. The shell, hinged adductor muscles, blood cells and pearl production each do their part to keep an oyster alive.
Conchologists of America lists oysters as a bivalved mollusk. The soft-bodied animal is protected with an exterior skeleton consisting of two shells derived from calcium in the oyster's environment. The shells grow as the oyster grows, helping anchor it where the animal lives as well as providing shape and rigidity for protection and camouflage from predators.
In an article on oysters from National Geographic, the mollusk is credited with having extremely strong adductor muscles. The muscles close the two shells together whenever the animal feels threatened.
There are threats that get beyond tightly closed shells. In an article regarding the reintroduction of oysters to U.S. coastal waters, the Maryland Sea Grant explains the mollusk does not have a sophisticated immune system like a vertebrae so the oyster's primary defense against any invading disease organisms is a process in which specialized blood cells recognize a foreign invader, ingest that invader and then internally destroys it.
A more familiar form of defense the oyster has against tiny foreign invaders results in the formation of a pearl. Imperial, an expert in pearl jewelry, credits an irritant, such as a piece of sand, working its way into a particular species of oyster. As a defense mechanism, the mollusk secretes a fluid coating the irritant with multiple layers of this fluid on the irritant until a lustrous pearl is formed.
How do Mussels Protect Themselves?
Are Farm Raised Mussels & Clams Healthy ...
How to Cook Oysters on the Stove
In What Parts of the World Are Valuable ...
The History of Biwa Pearls
Mother of Pearl Vs. Shell Buttons
How to Identify a Josten's Insignia Ring
How to Prepare Raw Oysters
How to Harvest Pearls
The Best Method to Store Fresh Oysters
How Often Do Lobsters Shed Their ...
How to Remove Whelk Shells
How to Cook Lightning Whelks
Types of Edible Clams
How to Devein Tiger Prawns
How to Make Sure Cooked Clams Have No ...
How to Cook Mussels & Clams Together
What Is a Pink Amethyst?
Symptoms of Food Poisoning With Oysters
Tiger Prawns vs. Shrimp
Gregory M. Dew has been writing about arts and culture since 1998. His work has been published in "The Ohio State Lantern," "Columbus Wired" and "Columbus Yogurt." Dew has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Ohio State University.