Page:Natural History, Mollusca.djvu/250

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238
MONOMYARIA.—OSTREADÆ.

oysters is from the 4th of August to January, and of natives from October to March. The consumption is said to be greatest during the hottest months after the commencement of the oyster season; the warmer the weather, the more oysters are consumed. They are brought to market in craft of various sizes; they are packed in bulk closely in the hold; in some cases a cask of saltwater is kept, from which to sprinkle them superficially. Those that come by rail are packed with the convex shells downwards, in bags or barrels. From the boats they are transferred to the salesmen, who keep them in a little salt and spring water, and shift them every twelve hours. Some pretend to improve them by 'feeding' them on oatmeal. Oysters, like other bivalves, live chiefly on infusoria. The quantity consumed annually in London varies in different seasons. One informant states twenty thousand bushels of natives, one hundred thousand bushels of common oysters, to be about the mark: another estimates the quantity sold in the season, from the 4th of August to the 12th of May, to be nearly one hundred thousand London bushels; each bushel being three Manchester, or imperial, bushels; and that about thirty thousand bushels of natives are sold during the same period by various Companies. During the season, commencing on August the 4th, 1848, and ending May 12th, 1849, Mr. Wickenden estimates about one hundred and thirty thousand bushels of oysters to have been sold in London, though of that quantity about one fourth was sent away to various parts of the United Kingdom and the Continent." [1]

  1. Forbes and Hanley, ii. 315.