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  • Writer's pictureChris

Hunting for Halos

Updated: Jan 20

This phenomenal event happens at dawn or dusk and is best observed during the cooler seasons when the sun tracks closest to the horizon.

“I have been unable to find references to ‘oyster halos’ on the internet,” says Chris. “I first heard of them by an oyster expert who is locally known as the ‘Oyster Queen’.” At a recent event, she explained the first time she heard of the term on a trip to Tangier Island several years ago. "For someone who thought they knew it all about oysters," the Queen mused, "the locals of Tangier taught me something that day." In reflection of this, it makes sense. As a land who's people experience their water and oyster beds daily and at an optimal visual perspective throughout the year, the phenomenon would no doubt become something worthy of being called halos.

To see Oyster Halos one must be patient and willing to position oneself near an exposed oyster reef at low tide when the sun is also low on the horizon. The halo occurs when the sun’s rays are roughly perpendicular to the translucent portion and newly formed outer rim of the oyster. The light becomes visible in this thin area of new shell growth.

The phenomenon had a pull on us too, so during the holidays, we noticed that low tides tended to align with sunrise hours and we made efforts to dawn-patrol our local oyster reefs to see if we could catch any ‘halos’ in action.

Chris commented, “I was less than excited to pry myself out of bed to see it for myself, but in the end it was well worth it.”

On one morning, the sunrise was especially dramatic. The atmospheric colors bathed the entire estuarial landscape.

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