Last month this unusual bivalve caught my eye while I was walking on the Mustang Island beach. Since the amber exterior is leathery in texture and not a hard surface, I had to soak it in bleach and let it dry outside for a long, long time to disperse the strong, fishy odor.
As you can (kind of) see in the second photo, the shell’s interior made my effort worthwhile. The Atlantic Pearl Oyster (Pinctada imbricata), as the name implies, can create desirable, nacreous gemstones. Which actually led to some problems for the species. On his third trip in 1498, Christopher Columbus collected some pearls which in turn led to a major pearl harvesting industry off the coast of Venezuela. Their popularity led to a massive depletion of the population.
I may not have found a pearl but I still feel like I discovered a bit of treasure.