Manama: A Bahraini professional diver has found a pearl inside an oyster and sold it for 7,500 Bahraini dinar (Dh73,254).
Ahmad Al Maliki said that he was truly lucky as it was the first time he went, alongside fellow divers, to dive in the area where he found the perfect pearl.
“We usually go out in the sea and dive in four places. After diving in three oyster beds, we decided to go to a new area. In fact, we went there to check this new area and see if there were enough oysters in order to come back to it later and start looking for pearls. We opted to go to a place that is not frequented by many people because it is far off the shore and the waters are deep,” he said.
During the assessment trip, he collected several oysters and when he later opened them, he found the pearl.
“I have been diving for 10 years, but this is the first time I got a pearl weighing 8.4 carats,” he said, quoted by local daily Al Ayam.
“When I saw the pearl, I could not believe it. I even had doubts that one of my friends was playing a trick on me, so when we were ashore, I went to an expert and he told me that it was natural. He took it to a specialised laboratory and they confirmed his conclusion.”
Diving for pearls in Bahrain is a deep-rooted tradition and up to 1932, it was the main source of income in the country. Reports said that Bahrain supplied up to 80 per cent of the world’s needs for pearls.
More than 2,500 ships sailed to pearl beds annually and the pearling journey typically took three or four months, usually starting in June and ending in October. Divers usually clutched a weighted rope and were lowered with special gears, collecting promising-looking oysters. A dive usually lasted about two minutes.
However, the industry suffered a serious setback when Japan flooded the world markets with cheaper cultured pearls.
Luckily for Bahrainis, they switched their jobs to join the oil industry with the discovery of the first well in the Arabian Gulf.
Bahrain has recently been working on reviving the pearling tradition beyond a cultural legacy for heritage festivals and several diving expeditions are being organised.
“The sea has a lot of wealth and opportunities, but there is a need for greater awareness among people so they can benefit from them,” Al Maliki said. “Diving is beautiful, but it has also challenges, including time. Diving today takes 40 minutes and opening oysters takes about three hours. Pearls have no season, but diving places change from winter to summer. The higher the temperature is, the deeper we have to dive to find the oysters.”