Wild Fact #783 – A Mermaid’s Best Friend? – Pearl Oyster

Photo by Manfred Heyde

I know diamonds are a girls best friend but since diamonds aren’t made by animals we are not going to talk about them today.  Nope, instead we are going to look at the Pearl Oyster.  Come on, I am sure you ladies would be happy to receive a nice shiny pearl for no reason.

It isn’t a myth, pearls are actually found in oysters and less commonly in other animals such as clams and mussels but we are only talking about the Pearl Oysters today. As well it is important to note that the oysters you find at your local “All You Can Eat” Oyster Bar are true oysters and are only remotely related to the pearl oyster.  Again, these edible oysters can also produce pearls but it rarely happens. Imagine finding a pearl in your oyster at the restaurant.  Talk about a “Happy Meal”.

Okay, so how do these oysters make pearls and more importantly, why do they make pearls? Would you believe me if I told you they make peals when they get irritated.  Can you imagine how many pearls you would have if you made one every time your brother or sister irritated you? As I was saying a foreign object such as a parasitic worm, small crab or any organic particle will enter the shell of the pearl oyster.  As a natural defense mechanism the oyster will begin to cover up the irritant with a substance called “nacre”.  This is the same material that the inside of the shell is made from.  The oyster will keep layering the nacre over the irritant until eventually a pearl forms.  We think of pearls as being a nice round jewel, however, not all pearls are perfectly round.  In some cases the pearls will be created in odd shapes which are commonly referred to as baroque pearls.

Pearl Oyster Fast Fact: Pearls will come in a variety of colours including green, white, gray, red, blue and even black.  Most of these can be found all over the world except for the black pearls.  In the wild they can only be located in the South Pacific.

The next time you are buying pearls, ask yourself what is in the middle of the pearl that started the whole process.

Have a great day!

2 Responses

  1. Mom & Dad 8 years ago
    • Nathan Nathan 8 years ago

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