Are Oysters Alive When You Eat Them? What You Need To Know About The Contentious Creatures

Here on the international day of romance, we deep dive into all things oysters -- one of Mother Nature's sexiest creations.

Going into any dinner date or social soiree, it's important to be armed with a number of conversation starters you're sure will go down a treat. Current affairs can be good, weather less so. There's politics, of course, if you're feeling brave.

In my experience, however, one surefire way to light the chat on fire is by mentioning oysters -- the humble little organism with a thousand stories to tell.

Because, you see, oysters are contentious creatures. The goopy globs of sea water have just about as many common google search questions to their name as the ocean has fish.

So to arm you with fun facts and instant 'oh really?' moments, this is everything you need to know about oysters:

Warning: pearls of wisdom ahead. Image: Getty

The Viagra of the sea

Let's get the saucy stuff right out of the way, shall we?

Oysters are indeed an aphrodisiac. But no, it's less about the tongue action it takes to down an oyster, and more to do with its protein content.

An aphrodisiac is any sort of substance that has the ability to heighten sexual desire due to its chemical make-up. And according to Seafood Industry Australia, oysters are a proud member of that raunchy team.

“Yes, oysters are an aphrodisiac as they are high in protein. Protein-rich seafoods like oysters, tuna, sardines and salmon can give your libido a boost and improve your stamina,” Seafood Industry Australia CEO, Jane Lovell, told 10 daily.

Oysters are rich in rare amino acids which can trigger increased levels of sex hormones, while their high zinc content provides the body with refueling qualities.

According to a 2018 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, couples who shuck together, er, you-know-what together.

The study found that couples were 39 percent more likely to be intimate on days when they had both eaten seafood. Those who consumed two or more seafood servings per week also had sex 21 percent more often.

Given that today is the international day of romance, I went down to the iconic Sydney Fish Markets to see just how many happy couples were stocking up on their sexy supply.

I asked Michelle of Peter's Oyster Bar how sales have been looking on this fine February 14th.

"Oh I didn't realise it was Valentine's Day, now that makes sense," she laughed.

"Because yesterday and today have been quite good for sales. Three days ago it was going down."

Sales are up and so are libidos.

Are oysters vegan? The world is your ethical conundrum

There is bountiful debate in the vegan community regarding whether or not they can consume oysters. In short, they're technically animals. But unlike an oyster, the answer isn't black and white.

Oysters are taxonomically classed as animals, but on an ethical level, the waters are murky. Unlike the overwhelming majority of animals, oysters have no central nervous system. They're also brainless and do't feel pain, suggesting they have no sentience.

Oysters are arguably more similar to a Venus fly trap than they are any standard animal. If you're seeking more clarity, I can confidently and objectively tell you that oysters with bits of bacon and cheese sprinkled over them are not vegan, so there's that.

An argument has also been made that oyster farming is potentially the world's most sustainable farming practice. Given that they're farmed on independent planks, they don't disrupt the natural environment.

And as reported by climate action organisation 1 Million Women, "oysters actually improve water quality. There are even non-profit projects devoted to cultivating oysters to clean the environment and boost biodiversity."

A standard oyster farm. Image: Getty

Oysters are alive while you eat them, sort of

To truly get the party started and freak out those around you, you can drop the disturbing fact that that raw oyster currently being spritzed with lemon and scooped into their mouth is technically -- technically -- still alive.

But as we've already established, their lack of sentience means you'll hardly hear them plea 'why God, why?'.

Keeping oysters on ice or in water close to serving means that they could very well still be 'alive' when they land on your plate. Many restaurants do this in order to maintain maximum freshness and avoid contamination.

Studies show that raw oysters can carry vibrio infections (its side effects including diarrhea and vomiting). But according to the Queensland government's health conditions directory, the bacterium is harmless for the majority of people.

Oysters are fascinating creatures, and these are only but a few pearls of wisdom.

Now eat up, you sexy thing.

Featured image: Getty