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The Filtering Power of Shellfish!

Shellfish—including lobsters, oysters, mussels and crabs—are consumed by people around the globe as a gourmet delicacy—yet few realize they are dining on creatures that God created for an entirely different purpose. A recent AFP article noted, “The mussel is the hoover [vacuum cleaner] of the sea, taking in phytoplankton for nourishment along with microplastics, pesticides and other pollutants…. It’s a super-filter in the marine world, filtering up to 25 litres of water a day… [Mussels] store almost everything else that passes through—which is why strict health rules apply for those destined for human consumption” (AFP, August 18, 2019).

Because mussels store the contaminants they filter from the water (which are passed on to those who eat them), they are excellent sentinels or “bio-indicators” of the health of the waters in which they live. Scientists are now using mussels to determine which toxins are present in aquatic environments, and researchers are also considering “deploying” mussels and oysters to rid polluted waters of microplastics, pesticides, bacteria, and other environmental toxins.

Shellfish are actually scavengers—part of the “clean-up crew” for aquatic environments. Mussels and oysters were designed by God to be underwater filtration systems and actually work to purify water. They were never intended to be eaten by humans, and the Bible clearly states that these creatures are “unclean” and not a food source for people (see Leviticus 11:9–12 and Deuteronomy 14:9–10). To better understand the reasons why God created different types of creatures, be sure to read “Do You Really Want to Eat That?