If you're new to the area, you might not know that there are only a handful of weeks left in oyster season here on the Grand Strand. Here's what you need to know about our local oyster season (and if you're hungry, where to go).

Months with an R
Because oysters are often eaten raw, they're best caught and enjoyed during months with an R in them. If you don't have a calendar handy, that would be September through April, though shellfish season typically starts on October 1. During the cooler months, bacteria naturally present in the water where shellfish such as oysters, clams and mussels live is killed off or reduced by the lower temperatures. This switch-over to cooler water temperatures makes eating raw seafood safer. However, in recent years with tropical storms and hurricanes bringing warmer waters and flood conditions to the area, the start of shell-fishing season has frequently been delayed for safety reasons.

Enjoying Local Oysters
One of the perks of living along the Grand Strand is the fresh local seafood. If you love oysters, Murrells Inlet is where you'll want to be to sample the best just-harvested oysters around. The inlet's plentiful oyster beds provide a seasonal feast served up at local restaurants and by individuals who like to venture out for some DIY harvesting. If you're an adventurous type and plan to go harvest your own feast, you'll need a currently valid South Carolina Saltwater Fishing License and you'll need to follow the regulations for recreational shell fishing .

If you'd rather skip the gathering and get right to eating, you've got a few fun options.

gsSCENE's 10th Annual Shuckin' on the Strand Oyster Roast on February 17, 2018 from 12 P.M. to 4 P.M. at Hot Fish Club in Murrells Inlet. One of the largest oyster festivals, this event is rain or shine and offers all-you-can-eat oysters, "fixins" and live entertainment.

5th Annual Surfrider Oyster Festival on February 25, 2018 from 11 A.M. to 6 P.M. at On the Half Shell in Murrells Inlet. This event offers all-you-can-eat oysters, a Bloody Mary contest, live music, tons of vendors and local artists. Proceeds benefit projects of the Grand Strand Surfrider organization to protect our oceans, waves and beaches.

If you're hungry RIGHT NOW for some fresh oysters, there is a large selection of local restaurants serving up great oyster dishes including Rockefeller's Raw Bar, Hot Fish Club, Bimini's Oyster Bar, Wicked Tuna, Mr. Fish, Wahoo's Raw Bar, On the Halfshell, Nance's, and The Noizy Oyster to name just a few.

Now is the time to enjoy the freshest, just-harvested local oysters of the year. Oyster season will be quickly coming to a close and you don't want to miss out on one of our area's best delicacies.