Tag: Ecology

Sea Sparkle

Sea Sparkle: Pretty, or pretty bad?

You probably aren’t too familiar with Noctiluca Scintillans, the alluring not-quite-algae responsible for the beautiful displays of light in the oceans surrounding Hong Kong. 

This unusual single-celled sea life, also known as “sea sparkle” gives off a bioluminescent glow when agitated, either by the movement of the waves or by a passing ship or fish. The breathtaking light shows are visible in many parts of the world, but become more prevalent in areas where increased nitrogen and phosphorous runoff from agriculture upset the delicate balance of the local ocean ecology.

Sea Sparkle

Noctiluca scintillans is an organism that functions both as a plant and an animal. While the organism in itself is not toxic, it tends to feed on phytoplanktons, and because noctiluca scintillans does not move from place to place, the buildup of excretions from its feeding results in high levels of ammonia in the surrounding water. This can lead to problems with surrounding sea life when heavy blooms of noctiluca scintillans take over large aquatic regions.

Noctiluca Scintillans single celled organism

We’re always impressed at the delicate balancing act our oceans perform to keep our entire globe running properly, and also by how easy it is for a few careless people to throw everything off kilter. Just a bit too much pollution from farms can cause seawater to become too nutrient-rich, leading to an overgrowth of noctiluca scintillans. The high ammonia caused by the overgrowth in turn causes problems with local sea life, problems which move gradually up the food chain until finally, they reach your dinner plate.

So what can you do about it?

Well, first, do your part. Be a responsible citizen of the globe. Recycle. Find ways to get involved. Educate yourself on the issues. Then get out there and make a difference! It takes a whole lot of drops to fill the ocean, and that ocean is depending on us.

Pearls International’s Top 10 Most Wanted List (#10 and Counting Down!)

(This post is part of our blog series that deals with Pearls International’s take on social and environmental responsibility. For more information on how Pearls International gives back, please click here.)

Oyster Toadfish Most Wanted Poster

We at Pearls International were wondering why it is so difficult to raise oysters – don’t you just put them in clean water and sit around in the sun for a couple years until the pearls are formed?  What is all the fuss about oyster disease and predators?  So, we decided to do a series on oyster threats!  What we found was amazing!

Pearls International will release facts about our Top Ten Oyster Threats, one per week, beginning with the least dangerous and leading up to the Number One (#1) most deadly threat to oysters and our beautiful pearls!  Wait till you see some of these critters!

In case you haven’t noticed, we are pretty crazy about pearls around here. That means we also have a lot of respect for the amazing little animals that make them. This includes several species of oyster, clams, and other mollusks. Of course, not all mollusks can produce a nacreous pearl like you see in the jewelry we sell, but we think they’re all equally important.

Oysters are a “keystone” species, meaning they are very important to the habitats they live in. Oyster beds provide shelter for a variety of marine life such as fry fish seeking shelter, and discarded shells serve as a substrate to facilitate the growth of sea sponges, whip corals, and sea fans. These organisms provide shelter to an even larger variety of marine life.

Oysters are also a food source for many animals, including humans.

They are very beneficial to the environment because of the way they feed: Oysters are filter-feeders. They pull food in through their gills along with gallons of water. Oyster beds essentially act as massive filtration systems, helping to keep the ecosystems they live in clean.

Without further ado, we present…Pearls International’s Top 10 Most Wanted List!


Number 10 (#10):   Oyster Toadfish
Meet our first offender, the Oyster Toadfish, above. These ugly looking mugs are known for hiding around oyster beds, staying out of sight until they make their attack. They have rows of sharp teeth designed to be able to crack into the hard shells of mollusks and crustaceans.  Despite their common name, “Oyster Toadfish,” they seem to prefer to prey on crabs, rather than oysters, so we rank them Number 10 on our list.

Stay tuned for more unbelievable oyster threats, leading up to the Number One (#1) enemy of our beloved oysters.  You won’t believe what some oysters go through to deliver their beautiful pearls!