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2 types of P. Maxima babitat distribution ranges?

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  • 2 types of P. Maxima babitat distribution ranges?

    Hi guys,

    This is my first post, though I've lurked for a few months now.
    I'm a newbie currently on assignment to write about Indonesian SSP. I'm Indonesian, btw (hello to my fellow countrymen! I know you guys are out there! ).
    First I want to thank people in this forum - the experts, the consumers, who have shared invaluable information that greatly helped me in my research! I am indebted to you. Some of the things I found here I can find nowhere else - especially since many of these said people have hands-on experience.

    I don't know if this question belongs in this category - so feel free to move this thread somewhere else.

    From what I've read, the gold-lipped and the silver-lipped Pinctada Maxima are really the same species. I also read that the gold-lipped predominantly inhabits the waters of the southern Philippines, and the silver-lipped can be found in the northern Australian coast. There's a missing information about what's in Indonesia, I thought, as Indonesia lies just in between the 2 countries.

    Can I assume that Indonesia hosts both types of P. Maxima? Is there a specific habitat distribution range to these types of oysters (i.e. gold-lipped to the West, silver-lipped to the East, etc)? I am referring to Rusty's post on

    I also read somewhere that the gold tint is due to a certain salinity of the sea water. Is this another factor that causes the Pinctada Maxima in the north of the equator (so to speak) to produce more of the golden colors?

    What I'm trying to find out is the color range of the pearls coming out of Indonesian waters, and why that is. And the difference between colors produced in the Philippines and Australia vs those that came out of Indonesian oysters, if any.

    I may be shooting myself in the foot by trying to be too technical in my writing, but if anything the answers will sate my curiosity.

    Thanks in advance guys.


  • #2
    Both silver lip and gold lip are found in Indonesia. Silver lip are dominant in Australia, but they have gold lip as well. I'll look up the distribution tonight when I can get at Elisabeth Stracks's Pearls. A great book, by the way.


    • #3
      I think the term you're exploring is regional genetic diversity. My experience with Pinctada sp. is limited, but the same principles would apply to others. Although the spawn of mollusks can be carried on the tides, it's reasonable to suggest that motility is short-lived. The greatest portion successful fertilization occurs within meters of the source while lesser are carried away by the tides as food for other creatures, or fertilized in very small percentages. Over the years, this leads to a predominance of certain genetic expressions. There are pearl farmers who declare their regional stocks to be genetically unique from other atolls, but not so much by the actual order, family or genus, but by varieties within the species. Color is definitely a factor in this, likewise not so evident are things like resistance to disease and parasites or growth rates.

      An ideal analogue in this discussion are humans. Although the same species, we have marked differences in appearance from region to region. Historically, blond hair, fair skin and blue eyes occur predominantly in some regions while dark hair, dark skin and dark eyes occur predominantly in others. Environmental factors for sure. Only in the past few hundred years when advances in transportation allowed us to live in other parts of the world, our gene pool has replenished in wider cultures.

      Mollusks don't have the luxury of choices when it comes to choosing a mate. They are wholly opportunistic and a such, it stands to reason that the rule of "survival of the fittest" be applied. This will almost always lead to predominance of certain factors in variants. It's reasonable to suggest environment is a factor, however minor that actually may be. The ecology of a region is a factor. While some areas are rocky, others are sandy. Some areas have greater freshwater resources when some have none. Putting a finger on each of these is nearly impossible without years of observation at a local level and even then it's conjecture at best, based upon patterns as opposed to distinctions and descriptions.

      In the oceans of the world, regional genetic diversity is a given if fauna is expected to survive and proliferate en mass.

      So to address your question about Indonesia specifically, in all likelihood predominance is relative to the varieties currently at hand. If one was to remove them by whatever means, would the identical variety replace it or would another predominate? My heart of hearts tells me the former in a majority of cases, but the latter to some degree too.

      The oceans are a mysterious and amazing place and pointed questions like these may never be answered fully, but it's a gift to want to understand and for that I thank you.


      • #4
        Well, according to Elisabeth Strack, they grow in a "geographical area situated between the Indian and the Pacific Ocean".

        From my observation, Indonesian South Sea Pearls grow in a full range of shades from white to gold. Then, white with silver and/or blue overtones or a body color of silver to blue, and white to gold with green overtones.

        Australia has concentrated on producing round white pearls. Selecting for white color, and the propagation of their own breeding oysters, may have influenced the natural population. In most saltwater cultured pearl operations, when donor mantle tissue is selected to grow cultured pearls, technicians cut from the area that displays the desired color on the corresponding mother-of-pearl surface of the shell. For gold pearls, you would harvest mantle tissue from the gold "lip" area. I hope that makes sense.


        • #5
          Great response, Dave.


          • #6
            Wow.... Thank you for all the thoughtful answers, y'all. They definitely add to my knowledge, but certainly complicate my writing... hahah..

            So it is safe to assume that regional genetic diversity notwithstanding, the selection of parent oysters selected for breeding purposes (gold-lipped or silver lipped) and the donor mantle grafted into the host play a bigger role in determining the intended pearl color coming out of host oyster?

            Thanks again, guys.


            • #7
              Hello Boys !
              Here you have some Golden and som mix color SS Pearls from indonesia ( west nusa Tenggara ).
              They have all colors of SS there, from White, silver, Gold, to Gold/green.
              Click image for larger version

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              Last edited by DaveTT; 08-20-2013, 11:20 AM.
              Happy and Honest


              • #8

                Thanks for the pics! Lovely lovely GSSPs... Unfortunately for me, I still haven't found one that would like to come home with me, unfortunately...

                Re: all the colors... yes, I heard the same comments from a few people I interviewed in West Nusa Tenggara. I was also told the reason this wide range of colors being that particular region is pretty much right in the middle of the P. Maxima natural distribution range. I couldn't verify this statement through any of the literatures I could find... hence my question on this forum.