The pearl farm at Manihi
Phil May and Andrea Twigg
Sun 15 Apr 2012 06:24
Today we went with Fernando to visit his pearl farm. It was the best excursion we have been on so far. He was enthusiastic about his job, showing us all the stages and explaining to us the techniques he has developed for getting the highest percentage of symmetrical pearls. I didn't realize before how much skill (as well as luck) goes into the production of a good quality pearl.
What touched us most about Fernando was his generosity, not only in allowing us to keep the pearls we harvested but also inviting us back to his home that afternoon to see his bag of pearls of special colors and shapes and then giving us bread, fish and bags of the oyster equivalent of scallops (the shell muscles) from the oysters he and his sun had been cleaning that afternoon. Tonight we have oyster for dinner.
Here is Fernando demonstrating the insertion of the pearl seed (a sphere cut from a Mississippi abalone shell) into an oyster. He demonstrated the procedure with an oyster cut in half. When they normally do it (each person processes 400 oysters a day) then they obviously cannot cut the oyster in half so they are working through a one centimeter gap between the two half shells prized apart.