top of page
  • José H. Leal

Wing Oysters and Sea Fans

Wing (or Winged) oysters get their common name from the wing-like expansions on their shells, also known as "auricles". The shells of young individuals show relatively larger auricles when compared to those of adults. The internal shell surface is nacreous, or pearl-like. Wing oysters and pearl oysters are members of the family Pteriidae and are not very closely related to true (edible) oysters, which belong in the family Ostreidae. Atlantic Wing Oysters, Pteria colymbus, are commonly found living in association with sea fans, sea whips, and other gorgonians, attaching to those colonial organisms using strong byssal threads. The byssal threads of a wing oyster bind firmly around the stem of the sea fan, coiling around them pretty much like a rope wrapped around a flag pole. Atlantic Wing Oysters may grow to about 62 mm (about 2.5 inches), and are brownish, with rays of lighter color. The colony of the Regal Sea Fan, Leptogorgia hebes, in the bottom image was host to at least eleven Atlantic Wing Oysters. That interesting grouping of sea fan and wing oysters was collected by Amy Tripp at Kice Island, Florida.

Pteria colymbus and Leptogorgia hebes.


bottom of page