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Scientists Declare Oysters "Functionally Extinct"

Scientists Declare Oysters "Functionally Extinct"

If you care about the future of sea life, maybe you shouldn't be eating oysters. A recent study shows over 85 percent of wild oyster reefs have disappeared, thanks to overharvesting and disease. The study, conducted by The Nature Conservancy and the University of California and published in BioScience, examined reefs across 44 ecoregions and 144 bays, excluding Japan, China, South Africa, and the Koreas.

The verdict? Oysters, overall, are in "poor" condition. "They are functionally extinct in that they lack any significant ecosystem role and remain at less than 1 percent of prior abundances in many bays and ecoregions, particularly in North America, Australia, and Europe," the study stated.

Roughly 75 percent of the remaining wild oysters in the world can be found within five North American locations, so that's good news, but maybe that means steering clear of anything that's not a farmed oyster, lest the bivalves vanish completely. Yet another reason to pay attention to sustainable seafood guidelines.

Image Source: Thinkstock
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