Crystal River site in Florida with shell mound

Victor Thompson
May 3, 2022
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Mound of shells with overgrown vegetation
Victor Thompson

Crystal River site in Florida is a massive shell mound, dominated by oysters showing the profile and dense accumulation of shell and other material.

A new global study of Indigenous oyster fisheries co-led by Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History anthropologist Torben Rick and Temple University anthropologist and former Smithsonian postdoctoral fellow Leslie Reeder-Myers shows that oyster fisheries were hugely productive and sustainably managed on a massive scale over hundreds and even thousands of years of intensive harvest. The study’s broadest finding was that long before European colonizers arrived, the Indigenous groups in these locations harvested and ate immense quantities of oysters in a manner that did not appear to cause the bivalves’ populations to suffer and crash. 


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