(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.)
Today’s installment brings us to the next oyster criminal – meet the Flatworm.
These are tiny offenders, growing only to a length of about one inch. They are hard to see because of their size and usually near transparent color, and that’s a good thing, because once you get a good look at them they are truly gross. Flatworms have an appetite for the meat of the oyster and gain access by slipping their small, translucent bodies in between the oyster’s two shells, proceeding to feast on the live oyster from the inside!
Interestingly enough, intruders similar to the flatworm are more likely to cause an oyster to produce a pearl than the legendary “grain of sand.” The oyster tries to prevent the worm from eating him by coating him with consecutive layers of an egg-white substance called “nacre” that crystalizes on the worm. This puts a stop to the discomfort and forms a tiny pearl, however, only one in 15,000 of these type of natural pearls are high enough quality to go on the market.
Flatworms try to eat the oyster and themselves become a pearl – we like that reversal, however the audacity of trying to eat someone from the inside earns this breed a Number Five (#5) on our Ten Most Wanted List.
We hope you have enjoyed the information so far! Stay tuned for more unbelievable oyster threats, leading up to the Number One (#1) enemy of our beloved oysters. You wouldn’t believe what some oysters go through to deliver their beautiful pearls!