Tahitian Pearl Farming: A day in the life...


Well-known member
Jun 11, 2007
Hello everyone,
I just got back from the farm where I had fun with a new fisheye lens that I picked up on my recent trip to the States.
The first two pictures are the farm and the boats at daybreak, when I start work on the farm (not when everyone does).

The second two pics are of Teva and Laurent putting the oysters to be harvested this day on the temporary holding platform at the farm. They have just brought them from over deep water water where the oysters spend most of their lives.
This is Aristide who I like to call the "Machine" for his shear speed and dextrous hands. If you look in the middle of the photo you will see an oyster in mid air that hasn't even landed before he has the next one in his hand, ready to cut it's nylon attachment to the mesh.

After the oysters are removed from their protective baskets and scraped they are opened (gently) and have pegs made from clothes pins wedged in to keep them open for the grafters.
This is the the grafting crew minus yours truly. Laurent in the foreground is also the farm manager and an impressive Jack of all trades. Behind him is Aristide again and farthest back is head grafter Timi. He doesn't graft heads but does double as the farm surgeon (no joke), stitching up the occasional reef gash.

Here is apprentice grafter JR, swiftly bringing a nucleus to his oyster for the second graft after pulling out a pearl.

Here is grafting super star Timi proudly showing off a beautiful cherry tone pearl, hot out of the oyster.

and another peacock...
Immediately after the pearls are gently extracted a second nucleus is put into oysters who produced worthy pearls. After that they go out and get attached to protective baskets again where they will spend the next X amount of months producing their second pearl. The attaching is Heiarii's job and unfortunately again a photo cannot capture the speed at which the fingers move.

Speaking of fingers, here's a second pic of Heiarii's fingers with our pearl gang's sign "W" for "West Side Ahe," beaaatch.

Not all oysters are good to go for a round two though. For those who are sick or rejected the graft, they are processed (isn't that a nice way to say done in?) and the shell is put aside for export (to make pearl nuclei and shirt buttons).

The oyster meat that is harvested is often the yummy plat de resistance of our noon meal. Lunch on the farm is lovingly prepared by Camelia who is seen here making something from nothing with for the ?th time. This pumpkin was probably grown in Timi's garden.

Lunchtime is when the pace shifts and people come together to eat, be silly, etc.
Aristide, Heiarii, JR and me.

Here is our pet Ocelot that we found in a mountain jungle nearby, soon after a jaguar orphaned it.

This bird spends it's days watching what we are doing from the top of the bridge that goes to land. It's really more interested in the fish that it occasionally dives for though from it's lofty perch.
Wonderful photos, Josh...makes me feel like I'm there. I love the ocelot, too. Have you made him/her a pearl collar?

Thank you for the photos. It was great to see everything so up close and personal.
Great photos! I love the inside look at your operation. Can you go back and move the photos that are cut off on the right side so they show one at a time? I'm not sure if it looks cut-off to you, but the first post shows a photo and a half and the text also cuts off. I only ask because I can tell the pics are epic and I NEED to see them.

If you keep writing and posting photos, we'll keep enjoying them. I especially like how you capture the personalities of your crew. ;)

My dad used to tease me as a kid that "an ocelot costs a lot" because I wanted one in the worst way...
Josh, thank you for posting these beautiful photos - love the bird, love the cat, and just loved seeing the stunning peacock pearl fresh from the oyster - definitely an improvement on seeing CFWP being extracted... more "pearlish" I guess, with the whole oyster vs. mussel thing..
Fantastic view of a "day in the life" of your pearl farm, Josh. I'm so glad you could take advantage of the depressed dollar to get a great lens for your camera so we could see your pictures ;-)
Am I the only one who can't see the photos on the right?

Josh is a fabulous photographer. It looks like paradise. Paradise with hard work, but paradise all the same! ;)
Okay, I guess wherever the photos are side by side, I can only see part of the photo on the right and part of the text, yet others can see the whole thing. Hmmm...

What I really want are more CAT photos! ;)
Am I the only one who can't see the photos on the right?

Josh is a fabulous photographer. It looks like paradise. Paradise with hard work, but paradise all the same! ;)

No Blaire, you are not the only one to see just half the paradise!

Hopefully Josh can adjust the lovely photos! Talk about a men?s world there, LOL. I trust that Camilla is treated like a queen, preparing all those meals....

The Ocelot is beautiful. Is it a he or a she? What is he/she getting for breakfast?

Thanks for the photos anyway, Josh. Poor oysters that are "done in" though....
and another peacock...

Too funny! "Dum, de, dum, de, dum, just -- ANOTHER PEACOCK!" :D Yes, the photos are gorgeous, paradise is gorgeous, the pearls are gorgeous, but the family is the most important. You're a great "boss" to realize that. I wish you and your family the best of everything.