At one time the Gulf States relied upon the pearl industry to support their economy. It was considered to be a very dangerous industry because you never knew if you would find pearls worth harvesting and you had to fight off all sorts of wonderful marine animals…jellyfish, barracuda, sharks…just your common, every day, deadly creatures.
Here, the men did the diving (it was women who did the diving in Japan). The lungs on them must have been very well developed because it sounds like they stayed down even longer. They would clip their noses with bone or wooden clips and then hold onto a stone to help them drop to the bottom of the sea. So much for slow descents to clear your ears! Not only that, sometimes they’d go down as far as 200 feet! The treatment when they got the bends was horrific!
They persevered, however and would pull or cut the oysters from rocks and drop them into bags. The bags were attached to lines dropped from the surface. The men would stay down until either their bags were full or they were completely exhausted (usually around 2 minutes).
I have to admit that I’m thankful that the discovery of oil here (and the cultivated pearls from Japan) stopped the pearl diving here. There are, however, leftover memories of the industry…and, of course, the tourist attraction aspects…including this pearl on the Corniche and the “Pearl” development we went to earlier.