Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
All members of the genus share the physiological properties that lead to the production of large pearls of commercial value, and attempts have been made to harvest pearls commercially from many of the species. However the only species that are currently of significant commercial interest are:
- Gulf Pearl Oyster , Pinctada radiata; Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea
- Black-lip Oyster , Pinctada margaritifera; Persian Gulf and southwestern part of Indian Ocean; Australia; Fiji; Tahiti; Myanmar; Baja California; Gulf of Mexico
- White-lip Oyster or Gold-lip oyster, P. maxima; Australia; Fiji; Tahiti; Myanmar; Philippines
- Japanese Pearl Oyster or Akoya Pearl Oyster, P. fucata (also called P. imbricata), Red Sea; Sri Lanka; Persian Gulf; Indian Ocean; Western Pacific Ocean; Australia; China;
- Shark Bay Pearl Oyster P. albina; Australia
The different species produce different types of pearls. Black South Sea Pearls, or Tahitian pearls come from the Black-lip oyster; White and Golden South Sea pearls from the White-lip and Golden-lip oysters; and Akoya cultured pearls from the Japanese pearl oyster.
Pearls are also obtained in commercial quantities from some species of the related genus Pteria, and also from the freshwater mussel species Hyriopsis schlegeli. Though also a bivalve, this last species is unrelated to the oysters.
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