This week I would like to share some of our experiences with hurricanes. I know that most people that live on the coastlines of the Atlantic and Pacific rim have experienced the destructive force of a hurricane or typhoon. Who can forget 2005′s “Katrina” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Katrina) or “Wilma” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hurricane_Wilma)??? Their destructive force became legendary…
But in most instances the media usually focuses on Human losses, acts of heroism or savagery, economic distress, etc. On this occasion we will only talk about the effect of hurricanes on pearls, and by this I mean the pearl oysters, pearl farms and farmers and even “Pearl Shops” (or stores). Since our experience with pearl farming dates only as far as 1991, we have been able to experience several hurricanes over the years, each one uniquely different in its effects. We also have records of similar events taking place at other places and times. Let us begin with one such account:
Pearly Joy in Guaymas
According to the late Don Manuel “el Tío” Ferreira of Guaymas, Sonora, hurricanes and tropical storms in the area caused some “pearly joy” in the 1960-1970′s because the severe tidal action would dislodge great numbers of pearl oysters from their attachment points (rocks, shells, corals, even from other oysters) and have them lay on the beach. Thus people would walk the beach of Miramar to easily obtain natural pearls. In his years of gathering natural pearls in this manner, Mr. Ferreira said he was able to fill up a large glass jar with natural pearls. Of these, only two -he said- were larger than a bean and very beautiful. Unfortunately I was never able to see more than a cup of pearls because he had given many away over the years.
I was able of experiencing this phenomena just a couple of years ago (2007) just after the arrival of hurricane “Henriette” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_Pacific_hurricane_season#Hurricane_Henriette). I walked the shores of the place once known as “Shangri-La” (now there is a “Beach Club” there, owned by Hotel “Marinaterra”) and found hundreds of clams, mussels and pearl oysters -most still alive- just lying on this small beach.
One can only imagine that -for Centuries- the native inhabitants of the Sea of Cortez (and probably in other areas of the world) could have enjoyed similar benefits after such storms. There is such a thing as a Free Pearl and Lunch (if you eat the pearl oyster)