AN oyster weighing TEN times the average has been dredged up near West Mersea.

Fisherman Richard Haward and his family have been in the oyster fishery business since the 1700s.

They have caught some hefty molluscs in their time, but were still surprised when they pulled up the 1.7kg whopper.

Richard’s son, Tom, said it was quite the spectacle and was only centimetres away from beating the world record for biggest oyster.

He said: “We have 14 acres in the creeks just off Mersea Island and this particular beast was probably put there about 20 years ago.

“The marshes around here have little hills and dips in them, so sometimes when the oysters are being laid down they fall into the dips.

“Either this one had fallen into a dip or it has learnt to duck, as it has just been missed all this time.”

An oyster’s size and weight are relative to its age, meaning the family knew straight away it was an old oyster.

Tom said: “If they have the right environment to thrive in they can grow quite quickly, but it’s rare for them to get to that sort of age.

“Usually we catch them when they are about five years old.

“I reckon this one has still got a few years left in him yet, he seems to be strong and healthy.”

The oyster is being kept in one of the storage pits at the family business for the time being, and they are not sure what to do with him yet because of his size.

Tom said: “We have caught things of a similar size in the past but not that many.

“This one is not quite a record - the biggest one in the Guinness Book of Records is 32cm long and 10cm wide.

“Our one is wider, it’s 12cm, but it’s only 29cm long.

“The average oyster only weighs about 140g so this one is ten times the size.”