The black pearl, shrouded in legend, intrigue, and mollusk slime. Determined to seize adventure when opportunity knocks, Naturalist Kate Roberts and I ran the long path to the treasure trove of pen shells noted in the prior post. The elusive black pearl sometimes found in pen shells is a rare find. We have not yet found a suitable approach for eating these wonderful delicacies, and in order to find a pearl, the pen shell must give its life to the cause. When we find live ones we throw them back. But in this case fortune had provided us with literally hundreds of “formerly” live penshells. Knowing that the treasure map to finding a pearl within a pen shell was based on the sort of academic research uncommon in the standard beach tourist, we knew that great treasures lie potentially undisturbed on TREASURE Island….. upon finding a pen shell closed too tightly for the seagulls to scavenge, you pry open the pen shell, overcoming the maniacal grip of deaths embrace….. arggg … the smell… as these treasures have been lying on the beach in the August sun for three days or more…. your imagination may be sufficient to color in the scent, but probably not! When your eyes stop watering from the punishment you delicately thrust two fingers into the decaying carcass of pen meat and search for the pearl by feel alone. The pearls are definitively spherical as other digestive nodules are not. Dedication and knowledge, a powerful combination…..
Amazing, the actuaries among you would know that the treasures of the island had given up more than their due. YET…. Sunday was to prove that dedication and knowledge are often trumped by dedication and luck. Naturalist Kate Roberts on Sunday was canvassing a shell drift vein 50 feet off shore when she found just the hint of what seemed to be a very large Spiny Jewel box. The submerged shell was in 7 feet of water and excavation required more mechanical advantage. She quickly called for a the assistance of a manual labor dive team (me). Several dives later it became apparent that this was no ordinary find. On the fourth attempt, we unearthed the Horse Conch….
The treasure of inestimably greater value than the pearl was safely stored, and you might think that that was the end of the adventure, not so! Flush with the excitement of a successful treasure hunt we sallied (does anyone actually sally any more?) forth. Going back to Kates Identified shell vein ….
Figure the odds on that.
Credit for the treasure map should be given to proffessor fish head, who has the most relevant treatise on pen shells that I have found.
Kates web page detailing some of the above adventures is here