Energy and Environment Reporting for Texas

How the Texas Oyster Made a Comeback

Photo by Flickr user Swamibu/Creative Commons

After almost losing the entire season to drought, gulf oysters are back on the menu in Texas.

Texas Gulf oysters are back on the menu. In what could be the latest start ever for Texas oyster season, the bays of San Antonio and Espiritu Santu opened on midnight Thursday to oyster harvesting. Carol Huntsberger, who owns Quality Seafood Market in Central Austin with her husband, says the oysters should start showing up in markets within a week or two.

“Typically the oyster season opens in September,” says Huntsberger. “In the last couple years, due to the drought and red tide, you know, it was pushed back. Last year I think it didn’t open until November. So this is the latest I’ve ever seen it open.”

Jim Gossen of Louisiana Foods, a fish purveyor in Galveston (and astute observer of the Asian Tiger Prawn), sent out a news release with even more good news for fans of Texas Gulf oysters:

It appears that, as of the end of last week, the Red Tide in Galveston Bay has officially dissipated, BUT this DOES NOT mean that waters are open, yet. No higher than acceptable readings were found anywhere in Galveston Bay last Thursday or Friday. So, TDSHS [Texas Department of State Health Services] has begun pulling oysters from around the bay in order to start testing the meats. TDSHS is hopeful that Galveston Bay will be open within the next two weeks.

Looks like we are almost out of the woods.”

Gossen also writes that oysters from Lavaca Bay are being tested this week and it’s possible that bay could open soon.

How did the oysters make such a comeback? The red tide caused by algae blooms was tied to the drought. Without fresh water coming into the Gulf, those algae flourished, and made the oysters unsafe to eat. But in the last few months, with above-average rains coming down and sending freshwater into the Gulf, the water there has essentially been refreshed, and now Texans can proudly get shuckin’.


About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »