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  • Let's bite!

    A Virginia Beach woman found a rare 4 1/2-carat pearl in a clam purchased at the Great Machipongo Clam Shack in Nassawadox. The man who grew the clam has never seen a pearl in an aquaculture clam.

    A Virginia Beach woman is happy as a clam after finding a rare 41/2-carat lavender pearl in a littleneck purchased at the Great Machipongo Clam Shack in Nassawadox.

    "I bit down on it and I pulled it out and said, 'Look at this,'" said Kathleen Morelli.

    Billy Bowen of B&E Seafood in Willis Wharf, who has been in the clam-growing business for a quarter century, said he has never found a pearl in a clam grown through aquaculture like the one Morelli bit into.

    The littleneck, grown in Hog Island Bay, likely was between 1 1/2 and 2 years old, he said.

    "In the natural clams you could find them in there, about once a month you could find them. But in all my experience, I have never seen one to come out of an aquaculture clam ? it's very rare," Bowen said.

    The pearl's large size, found in such a small clam, makes it even more unusual.

    "We've been buying from him for years. When he told me that he has never seen one in an aquacultured clam, I said, 'Gosh, that's fascinating,'" said Jean Mariner of the Clam Shack.

    Morelli was traveling to see her sister in Philadelphia when she stopped at the restaurant and seafood market to pick up a couple of bags of clams, as is her wont.

    "Every time anybody goes north or south, we always stop at the Clam Shack," she said.

    After she arrived, family members were enjoying a feast including steamed clams when Morelli found the pearl. She liked its look, but didn't realize how rare it was.

  • #2
    Welcome, Sheppie, and thanks for sharing these fun stories! Most of us have never found a pearl in a clam, as much as we would love to! Although most pearls like this have little value beyond a conversation piece, most peeps keep their pearl as a sign of good luck. We hear stories like this fairly often.