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Shell of Pinctada margaritifera
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Mollusca
Class: Bivalvia
Order: Pteriida
Family: Pteriidae
Genus: Pinctada
Röding, 1798[1]

See text

Pinctada is a genus of saltwater oysters, marine bivalve mollusks in the family Pteriidae. These pearl oysters have a strong inner shell layer composed of nacre, also known as "mother of pearl".

Pearl oysters are not closely related to either the edible oysters of family Ostreidae or the freshwater pearl mussels of the families Unionidae and Margaritiferidae.

Pinctada margaritifera and P. maxima are used for culturing South Sea and Tahitian pearls. They are cultured widely primarily in the central and eastern Indo-Pacific. A pearl oyster can be seen on the reverse side of the 1,000-peso note of the Philippines.

Species of commercial value[edit]

Opening and extracting pearls from farmed pearl oysters
Cultivated pearl oyster (from Japan Shima, Mie)

All species within the genus produce pearls. Attempts have been made to harvest pearls commercially from many Pinctada species. However, the only species that are currently of significant commercial interest are:

The various species of Pinctada produce different maximum sizes and colors of pearls, depending on the size of the species and the natural color of the nacre inside the shell. Black South Sea pearls, or Tahitian pearls come from the black-lip oyster; gold and silver South Sea pearls from the gold-lip and silver-lip oysters; and Akoya cultured pearls from Pinctada fucata martensii, the Akoya pearl oyster.

Pearls are also obtained in commercial quantities from some species of the closely related winged oyster genus Pteria.

Pearls are also produced from freshwater mussel species unrelated to pearl oysters. These freshwater species include Hyriopsis cumingii, Hyriopsis schlegelii, and a hybrid of the two species.

At danger from the large demand for pearls, the typical lifespan of a pearl oyster is usually around 3 years to 14 years. Pinctada maxima are seeded at about 2 years of age and take 2 years to fully develop a pearl. They can be reseeded up to 3 or 4 times. Akoya pearls are harvested after about 9 to 16 months.

Research carried out by biologist Aldemaro Romero Jr. allowed him to discover that the first animal population depleted by Europeans in the American continent was a pearl oyster species (Pinctada imbricata) off the coast of Venezuela. He analyzed historical records and used information about the biology of these and other species to explain its rapid disappearance.

Species list[edit]

The World Register of Marine Species includes the following species in the genus:[1]


  1. ^ a b Bouchet, Philippe (2014). "Pinctada Röding, 1798". WoRMS. World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved 2014-02-15.
  2. ^ Rajaei M.; Farahmand H.; Poorbagher H.; Mortazavi M.S.; Farhadi A. (2015). "Sympatric morphological and genetic differentiation of the pearl oyster Pinctada radiata (Bivalvia: Pterioida) in the northern Persian Gulf". Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. 95 (3): 537–543. doi:10.1017/S0025315414001611. S2CID 86574600.

External links[edit]