coon oyster n Also coon, raccoon oyster [Appar because they are preyed on by raccoons] chiefly S Atl, esp FL Cf cat-tongue n, coon v 4, coonheel n, rabbit-ear n 1, razor blade n, Shanghai n 1, stick-up n 1, strap oyster n
An oyster n B1 growing in a crowded natural bed that is exposed at low tide, usually small or narrow in comparison to those that are commercially harvested. Note: For the most part such oysters appear to be a habitat-determined variety of the common eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica, though other species are no doubt included; the specific application to Lopha frons in some (semi)technical literature does not appear to reflect general usage.
1831 New Engl. Mag. 1.339 SC, The smaller oysters, that are left bare by the tide, are called raccoon oysters; they stand upright, are five inches long and closely wedged together. 1864 WI State Jrl. (Madison) [7 Mar 2]/3 SC, Before quitting the subject of the [Beaufort] river, I must speak of what the ebb tide reveals at the bottom in many places in shore, namely, compact beds of oysters. . . The negroes call these “coon oysters,” because occasionally a hungry racoon’s foot gets caught in one. 1869 Amer. Naturalist 3.460 cwFL, The small oysters . . are not generally eaten except by the raccoons, hence the common name for them of ‘coon oysters.’ 1881 Ingersoll Oyster-Industry 192 eFL, Every bit of sunken log in the marshes, each fallen tree whose branches trail in the water, and row-boat stake, becomes at once loaded down with “coons”. Frequently large specimens are obtainable, and such are very good, as I proved, but they are rarely eaten, and no attempt whatever is made to utilize the easily obtainable seed for transplanting. Ibid 243, Coon oyster.—Small, shapeless, worthless stock, growing in heavy clusters along the salt marshes, or forming great bars. (Southern coast.) At Cape May [NJ] the word is restricted to young oysters caught on the sedges. 1894 DN 1.329 NJ, Coon oyster: small oyster attached to the sedge rather than to the usual more solid supports. 1899 (1912) Green VA Folk-Speech 342, Raccoon-oyster. . . An uncultivated oyster growing on muddy banks exposed at low tide. 1908 Rogers Shell Book 424, The Tree or Coon Oysters (O[strea] frons, Linn.) are found growing together, forming masses as big as a bushel basket hanging from the supple aërial roots of the red mangrove in southern Florida, and built into the rocky breastworks of many a coral beach. 1915 FL Dept. Ag. Shell Fish Div. Biennial Rept. for 1913–14 61, A “coon” oyster is deﬁned to be such oysters that may be found growing in bunches along the shore between high and low water mark. 1941 Amer. Midland Naturalist 26.698 TX, The common coon oyster is listed [in the book under review] as Ostrea frons. All the coon oysters I have seen in Texas are variants of Ostrea virginica and the correctness of the other designation is extremely doubtful. 1946 PADS 6.10 seNC, Coon oyster. . . A long, narrow sharp-shelled oyster found in marshes. Usually in clusters, sometimes a dozen to a cluster. 1971 News & Observer (Raleigh NC) 26 Dec sec II 8/8, A sand fence was put up, belatedly, but who noticed that the sand had also moved into the sound, covering the oysters? Coon oysters, to be sure, but oysters just the same. 1974 Abbott Seashells 457/1, Lopha frons. . . Frons Oyster—Florida, Louisiana. . . Formerly called the ’coon oyster. 1983 Tallahassee Democrat (FL) 29 Dec sec B 1/3, 16 boatloads of oysterers have been making 90 cents for each bushel of “coon oysters” they move from shallow outer oyster bars to deeper channels. Coon oysters are those found on the dry part of an oyster bar that can be harvested by hand. 2018 Ft. Myers News–Press (FL) 27 Dec sec D 2/1, The oyster catchers have returned and are regularly seen feasting on the coon oysters on the oyster mound at the entrance to Hall Bay.