I have never liked eating oysters. They look like someone with bronchial problems has just thrown up on a sea shell.
The one and only time I ever tried an oyster was at a Christmas party in a swish hotel in London many years ago, where they also they offered me a pint of Black Velvet (Guinness and Champagne) to wash it down.
I drank two BVs, then threw the oyster away. Sorry, I will never be drunk enough to slide one of those slimy things down my gullet.
Nevertheless, a lot of people enjoy them. Though whether they will continue to swallow oysters after my description remains to be seen.
And let’s be honest, it was a brave person that first ate an oyster.
An optimist looks at an oyster and expects a pearl; a pessimist like me expects food poisoning.
But one reason why it is worth keeping an eye on an oyster – one that is still attached, unchewed and in its original shell – is that these rocky shellfish enjoy a close harmony with the rise and fall of the tides.
They open to feed when the tide comes in, and close for self-protection when the tide goes out.
Scientists have even found this to be true when they have taken oysters 100 miles away from their natural home and placed them in a sealed and darkened tank of sea water.
For the first 14 days, those oysters followed their normal cyclic pattern. But after 15 days they started opening when the moon – which controls the Earth’s tides – reached its highest point over their new laboratory location.
This apparently suggests that oysters, like human beings, experience the subtle gravitational changes in atmospheric pressure caused by the moon.
As the average adult human carries about 30 pints of sea water (and you thought all that sloshing around was the gin ‘n’ tonics at the Captain’s party!), it seems we get heavier when the tide is full, and lighter when it goes out.
Strange, but true.
So the next time you order oysters on a cruise ship, take a good close look at them and check the tide and moon.
Whether you like eating them, or not, the oyster is a good role model for mankind: with a little grit it can product a pearl of great value.