Crystal River site in Florida with shell mounds

Victor Thompson
May 3, 2022
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staircase on a graa hill
Victor Thompson

Crystal River site in Florida with massive shell mounds, dominated by oysters, pictured here during archaeological mapping and showing the modern staircase and platform built on top of one of the mounds.

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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