"Before the 20th century, when people thought of New York, they thought of oysters," Mark Kurlansky writes in his book about the history of NYC's famous bivalve, The Big Oyster. But did one of the biggest oysters in NYC history just wash ashore? The River Project recently shared photographs of an enormous oyster so big that it was too heavy for their triple beam scale to measure.

A construction worker at Pier 40 brought the mega oyster, "wrapped in a cloth," to The River Project last Thursday, according to Toland Kister, an educator at The River Project. He said, "We found a lot of large oysters last summer at the bottom of the floating dock," but this specimen "easily dwarfs any of the oysters we found" then. It is over 610 grams (around 1.3 lbs) and is about 8.5 inches long. "It's the size of a small shoe," Kister estimated.

Oysters had once been in abundance in New York, with the city exporting them overseas and oyster stands on sidewalks for people to enjoy the briny treat. But by the early 20th century, pollution, as well as over-farming, contributed to the oysters' decline.

As the region's waterways have been transformed into cleaner bodies, more marine life has been coming back. The oyster found on Thursday had been growing on top of one of the area's wooden pilings; Kister said that you can see some of the wood still in the oyster in the photos. While The River Project has been cultivating oysters as part of the Billion Oyster Project, Kister said it was "uplifting" to see "wild oysters without any human influence" do well.