Products of the Sea-Pearls

Products of the Sea-Pearls

Title

  • Products of the Sea-Pearls

Published Date

  • published 1940

Transcript

[page 7]
is attached. Once on the bottom the diver uses his toes almost as handily
as he does his hands in gathering oysters into this basket for, having no
helmet, his stay in the water must be short. From 50 to 80 seconds is the
average time a diver remains under water but many can endure longer
periods. When he signals to his co-worker, the later begins taking in the
rope. The sink stone goes up first, then the oysters, and last of all the
diver. (1)

Pearl-diving is a very ancient calling. More than 2,000 years ago
it was carried on in the Persian Gulf and even today the sand banks
about the Bahrein [sic] Islands are important fishing grounds. The seas
of the Far East are dotted with pearl fisheries. The Sulu Sea, the Aru
Islands, Labuen, Timor, New Caledonia, all are noted for their oysters.
(1)

The northern coast of Australia, in 1934 and 1935, supported a
thriving pearling industry which engaged 200 boats and employed 2,500
men. In this area the Australians employed Japanese divers who are
admittedly the best. The average diver there earned about $1,500 a year,
but the better men, since all are paid a percentage of the total value of the
shell they bring in, could earn as much as $2,400. (5)

Recognizing the possibilities in this industry, the Japanese began
sending their own boats into the area. Operating out of Polau [sic] in the
Mandated Islands, the Japan Pearl Company, in 1938, controlled 160
boats of 30 tons each. The boats remain on the grounds throughout the