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Silly question: can creamy WSS be bleached to white WSS?

CortezPearls

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BTW: I don't EAT any animals. I went 100% Plant-Based eater 5 years ago. I cannot be considered "Vegan" because I work with animals. I have great simpathy for animals and all-life, for our Planet... I could not perform an operation on oysters or have a pearl farm if I did not believe it was something GOOD.
 

StarryPearl

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Interesting questions StarryPearl. I love questions!
And this very morning I was watching a video with Jeremy Shepherd and Rui Gallopim about freshwater pearls and the "new FWP from China" (I actually added the video to the "News Section") and Rui asks Jeremy this same question about the "pain" and "irritation" that comes from the oysters when making pearls...or harvesting them and Jeremy and I are in PERFECT UNISON when it comes to this subject:

These mollusks DO NOT EXPERIENCE PAIN. Maybe some conchs and certainly the cephalopods could experience "pain", but pain is an actual CONSTRUCT of a brain...and if you don't have one: you can't feel it. These mollusks -for Jeremy and I- are animals that are almost "plant-like"...and plants and ALL life-forms experience something called "irritation" and they react to it. The "irritant" is anything that causes bodily harm. The creature's tissues and cells will react by secreting mucus and will try to "retreat" from damage. But because they do not have a brain...the response can actually just be limited to a small part of the body and the rest of the body is totally OBLIVIOUS to what might be happening on -let's say- the foot or mantle.

Now think about us... Humans. We can FEEL pain even if we are not being actively hurt! A bad memory can trigger it, seeing a person that has mistreated us, remembering a personal loss...there are so many things that will do it for us :(

So, from our perspective: oysters are "plantanimals" and we should be kind to them, never, ever mistreat them...but we should not concern ourselves too much with that feeling that we are hurting them, just like when you have a salad or an apple or banana. Enjoy and be Thankful for the fruits of Life.

In the case of re-seeding...this video is about harvesting Cortez Pearl using the "Rainbow Lip" oyster, so you can only use the oyster once (just like with Akoya oysters) since they are a short-lived species. The thing with the video is that I wanted to show you how the pearl comes out in an almost "poetic" fashion? The way pearls are extracted is totally messy and far from poetic: like squishing an egg.
So, once the video was shot...the oysters were all extracted from their shells, meat separated for sale and that was it. Not very poetic :(

Dear Douglas, thank you so much for treating my reply so seriously. It is interesting to learn that conchs may be able to experience pain. Like I said, I knew there was no pain for the oysters. (I have degrees in biology and I understand they are not developed enough to have this sensation, much less to "feel" the pain.)

What a pity the most beautiful rainbow lip oysters do not live long enough to carry more than one pearls. So how is this done with SSP and T? After regrafting, were they just laid there in certain places to recover or what? How can the technicians be sure the pearl sac will enclose perfectly or well enough later so that they do not get a "fireball" or tail shaped pearl? Besides, did you taste the meat? Does it taste like oyster or scallop? Do people eat it raw or cooked? Anywhere we can buy the meat online? Has anyone ever tried using rainbow lip's mantle pieces as donor tissue in black lip's implantation? Will the epithelial cells die because they are from different genus? I don't know if same family is good enough for the epithelial cells to survive, but, if they can survive and grow into a pearl sac in T's oyster, produce larger number of "psudo-cortez pearl" and able to re-graft due to longer life of T's oyster, won't that be awesome? - Somebody wake me up! :D

Thank you for sharing the video. I really enjoy it. It is already much more "poetic" than I thought. I thought people just wander their fingers inside and squish, but in the video I saw scalpel and tweezers, and the person who operated seems quite treasuring the pearls. I love seeing these.
 

CortezPearls

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Yes, and I would even say that we should all just trust ourselves a bit in how we feel about plants & animals. Years ago I was beach-combing after a hurricane. Usually thousands of animals are washed ashore :(
In a particular day a found a badly beaten conch shell and I picked it up...thought the snail was dead. I was inspecting the shell and out "pops" out this tiny face with stall-like blue eyes and looks straight into my Soul...and I just melted with empathy. Took it to the water and put it there so it could recover and hopefully live. I will never forget this moment of union...that animal had a Soul.

Now, to your questions! :cool: (and other members can surely share their knowledge):

1) So how is this done with SSP and T? After regrafting, were they just laid there in certain places to recover or what?
After re-seeding (this is the more accurate term since the pearl-sac is already in place and only a "seed" or nucleus is required) the oysters are placed back in their cages. Just like they had been before. This surgery is far less intrusive than the first one.

2) How can the technicians be sure the pearl sac will enclose perfectly or well enough later so that they do not get a "fireball" or tail shaped pearl? The beauty of it is that YOU NEVER KNOW...if Forrest Gump had ever been in contact with "Bubba the Pearler" (as opposed to his shrimp lovin' twin) he would have coined the phrase. "Life is like a pearl oyster...you never know which kind of pearl you gonna get...if at all!". So you trust in yourself and in Lady Luck!

3) Does it taste like oyster or scallop? Do people eat it raw or cooked? Anywhere we can buy the meat online? I did enjoy the meat! It is sweet & crunchy...just like scallops meat! Actually, pearl oysters should be referred to as "pearl scallops" since they are closely related to them! They are all Pteriomorpha! People in Mexico eat it cooked (baked, fried, charbroiled and deep-fried in batter) or raw (in ceviche or sashimi styled "aguachile").
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Looks tasty? It is! But...I'm not having any, anymore. Done with that.

These are raw...
callo2.jpg

You have to get them at the fish market or supermarkets. Here we all know of fishermen so we can just call and ask for an order and they will collect them. Farmed oyster meat is only available at the farm during harvest time (June-July).

3) Has anyone ever tried using rainbow lip's mantle pieces as donor tissue in black lip's implantation? Yes, I did. We actually tried with several species of scallops too. Results were bad: no pearls formed.

4) Will the epithelial cells die because they are from different genus? seems that way! We never found pearls in the experiments we performed, using Pinctada, Pteria, Nodipecten, Pinna and Argopecten. Inter-species grafting seems useless :(

5) but in the video I saw scalpel and tweezers, and the person who operated seems quite treasuring the pearls. That was all me...me on camera, my hands and my respect and admiration for these beautiful creatures.
 

StarryPearl

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Dec 29, 2020
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Hi Douglas, it brightens my Saturday morning and massages my soul to read your reply. I can imagine the touching scene, you and the conch snail...

I love your "Life is a pearl..." phrase. I somewhat likes it better than the original one with chocolate, because oftentimes you do "plant a seed", and the process of caring and waiting... Guess I'm talking about "Life is a beaded pearl", haha.

If I may ask one more question - I googled and saw Nodipecten, Pinna and Argopect are scallops (btw, is Argopecten's adductor musclewhat we usually eat?) that rarely produce pearls and even when they do, their pearls are non-nacreous. When we do grafting, we select donors from oysters that have the most beautiful mother-of-pearl, expecting their epithelial cells to build the highest quality pearls. These three species do not even have mother-of-pearl or secrete nacre, why did you try them and what was the criteria to choose the donors?

Thanks a lot for answering my questions. I learned a lot that I won't have a chance to know elsewhere. :)
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Charlotta

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Yep, it does have a soul. I can se that. Once I was suppose to kill a mouse, that weren't suppose to be indoors. It stopped at my feet and looked at me. I let it run of course. I cannot kill anything.
 

CortezPearls

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If I may ask one more question - I googled and saw Nodipecten, Pinna and Argopect are scallops (btw, is Argopecten's adductor musclewhat we usually eat?) that rarely produce pearls and even when they do, their pearls are non-nacreous. When we do grafting, we select donors from oysters that have the most beautiful mother-of-pearl, expecting their epithelial cells to build the highest quality pearls. These three species do not even have mother-of-pearl or secrete nacre, why did you try them and what was the criteria to choose the donors?f I may ask one more question - I googled and saw Nodipecten, Pinna and Argopect are scallops (btw, is Argopecten's adductor musclewhat we usually eat?) that rarely produce pearls and even when they do, their pearls are non-nacreous. When we do grafting, we select donors from oysters that have the most beautiful mother-of-pearl, expecting their epithelial cells to build the highest quality pearls. These three species do not even have mother-of-pearl or secrete nacre, why did you try them and what was the criteria to choose the donors?

Sure thing StarryPearl and Yes: the Argopecten (and also that of genus Pecten) abductor muscle is what is usually refered to as the "scallop" for God know what reason. The one you are most used to is Argopecten irradians from the Atlantic coast of the United States.
Argopecten_irradians.jpg
On this photo its primitive "eyes" (ocelli) look like pearls...don't they?

Why did we attempt to use them to grow pearls...because we could. We had the animals, we had time on our hands and with every experiment I learned more and more...I attuned myself as an instrument to deeply understand the animals. And I did leanr many things, one is that you should NEVER try to produce pearls inside the abductor muscle, and never in the scallop's gonads. I actually believed that because the gonad of a scallop are "conspicuous" (separate from the rest of the body and very evident) I could produce pearls there with almost no rejection and almost zero mortality rates. I know that if I had tried for longer I could have made progress there...but I had to focus on the species that was producing pearls: the Rainbow Lip!

And even if the pearls are non-nacreous (in those days we just called them "calcium concretions") they had their own personality...specially the pearls of the Lion's Paw scallop (Nodipecten subnudosus). I have some pearls and they are quite unique! This one is bi-colored.
Lyropecten subnudosus pearls (3).JPG

They have this unique "pattern" that is mesmerizing in its own way.

The mantle selection criteria was very very simple at that moment...if it has mantle: let's use it! :cool:
It mattered little if the shell was white or purple...the only real criterion was: it has to be a healthy donor and the shell must be "clean" without spots or defects.

So, for me at least at that time in my life it was all about LEARNING all I could from these primitive and amazing mollusks so I could eventually perform the best job possible in the most humane way.
 

CortezPearls

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And yes Charlotta
and Katbran ...those eyes...

I actually have the photo I took before I placed the conch back in the water...
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BWeaves

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Fascinating.

The eyes in the conch are killing me.
 
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StarryPearl

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Sure thing StarryPearl and Yes: the Argopecten (and also that of genus Pecten) abductor muscle is what is usually refered to as the "scallop" for God know what reason. The one you are most used to is Argopecten irradians from the Atlantic coast of the United States.
On this photo its primitive "eyes" (ocelli) look like pearls...don't they?

Why did we attempt to use them to grow pearls...because we could. We had the animals, we had time on our hands and with every experiment I learned more and more...I attuned myself as an instrument to deeply understand the animals. And I did leanr many things, one is that you should NEVER try to produce pearls inside the abductor muscle, and never in the scallop's gonads. I actually believed that because the gonad of a scallop are "conspicuous" (separate from the rest of the body and very evident) I could produce pearls there with almost no rejection and almost zero mortality rates. I know that if I had tried for longer I could have made progress there...but I had to focus on the species that was producing pearls: the Rainbow Lip!

And even if the pearls are non-nacreous (in those days we just called them "calcium concretions") they had their own personality...specially the pearls of the Lion's Paw scallop (Nodipecten subnudosus). I have some pearls and they are quite unique! This one is bi-colored.

They have this unique "pattern" that is mesmerizing in its own way.

The mantle selection criteria was very very simple at that moment...if it has mantle: let's use it! :cool:
It mattered little if the shell was white or purple...the only real criterion was: it has to be a healthy donor and the shell must be "clean" without spots or defects.

So, for me at least at that time in my life it was all about LEARNING all I could from these primitive and amazing mollusks so I could eventually perform the best job possible in the most humane way.

How beautiful and naturally delicate this Argopecten is! The eyes do look like pearls, to me like tiny blue akoyas under strong LED flashlight. Have to say this picture makes me consider removing "scallops" from my menu.

Thank you very much for your replies and sharing, Douglas. I almost feel like I am abusing your kindness. :D
 

CortezPearls

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I am very happy to SHARE :)
And this is what this forum is about...sharing our finds, interests, knowledge, experience and above all: OUR LOVE FOR PEARLS :cool:
 

Pearl Dreams

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I've read that conchs are vegetarians. Gentle creatures...TBH I hate that they are hunted for their pearls, much as I admire conch pearls.
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The following is what CortezPearls wrote in reply. I think he was trying to quote me and write his own post, but ended up editing my post by mistake. (I re-edited for clarity).

The thing is that animals are fished for their meat, not for the pearls. At least NOW.
So, the pearls are a by-product that we would never be able to enjoy were it not for seafood lovers. I don't feel guilty by owning or buying natural pearls...but I don't eat seafood! (BTW, this month will have a new documentary called "Seaspiracy" in Netflix, about the fishing industry).

If the fisheries stopped (I would applaud it!) and we never had other pearls than cultured pearls or sustainably produced natural pearls (subject to discussion and it would be fascinating) I would be happy.
 
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StarryPearl

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How amazing that we can have these deep discussions here and learn from Douglas's and everyone's experiences; a winding path from what someone thought was a "silly question!"

Exactly, Pattye! I have a ton of questions and I feel so lucky and grateful to have found a place where people know the answers and share generously. Hope one day I can help with others' questions, too. :D
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StarryPearl

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Thank you for bringing that up, @Pearl Dreams, and thanks for clarifying, @CortezPearls.I was thinking if people were to hunt for the pearls, why don't they just X-ray the shells, that will save so much time and labor. So I thought maybe they were primarily after the beautiful pink conch shells. But for meat? Are they really THAT hungry :rolleyes:? (btw, Douglas, not that I am coveting queen conch's meat, but did you ever taste it? Is it THAT good to be threatened by overfishing? )

And a somewhat unrelated update: I have convinced my husband that we will not buy scallops any more after finishing the last 2lb bag in our freezer, all thanks (and sorry) to those shining blue eyes :( ...
 

CortezPearls

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LOL StarryPearl I can imagine your husband's sad eyes now!

Yes, I actually lived for 6 months in the island of Cozumel back in 2004. We were to open a pearl farm there and we opened two stores also...everything was destroyed by a hurricane in 2006. Anyway, I was still omnivorous, and I had the chance to enjoy the conch shell meat...it was SUPERB! That animal is not simply food...it is a DELICACY. The shells are also sold...I mean, they try not to waste any dollar.

Fishermen don't have access to x-ray machines...and if they did, they would have to scan thousands of animals in an hour and in the heat, under the sun...so the animals would probably die and they would spoil. The x-ray machine requires a clean and non-salty environment too. And then again: the fishermen are after meat, not the pearl...the pearl is like winning the lotto while having a taco. You came for the tacos on "Taco Tuesday" but you left with a prize ;)
 
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CortezPearls

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BTW...this are two photos, the Before & After of our pearl farm in Cozumel. 2005 it was...Hurricane "Wilma".
Cozumel pearl farm storefront before hurricane - Cozumel pearl farm storefront before hurricane

So, we had just finished setting up this beautiful store, we had the pearl farm equipment and we were ready to start...then came the hurricane and this is all that was left behind.
Perlun Cozumel Wilma 2005 - Yikes!

Total loss. Dreams shattered. Money down the...Caribbean, even the safe was taken by the sea...there is treasure out there!
 

StarryPearl

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@CortezPearls, thanks for sharing the info and story and pictures.

Good point fishermen don't have X-ray machine. I thought of this but then I thought if people use X-ray to check bead retaining, they can certainly check pearls, totally forgetting those are "farmers" who culture pearls, not fishermen...

I am so sorry your beautiful store ended(?) up like that... :( the pain of dreams shattered... I can't imagine... I have been maniac on pearls recently and dreaming of owning a teeny-tiny farm in unforeseeable future - I resist considering this situation, too painful. With that said, your "even the safe was taken by the sea" made me burst into laughter. :cool: Only the brave talks pain into humor.
 
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