Culturing Pen Pearls in USA?

Pen Pearls

Pen Pearls

Pen Pearls
Pen Shells

"There are thousands of them out there," Gamel said. "I kind of got curious about the pen shells. I read more about them because all I knew was they were really pretty."

After stumbling across such interesting facts as they naturally produce a black pearl that has rainbow coloring, it sparked his curiosity and became his undergrad senior project, and later became the topic of the Gulf Coast Innovative Challenge.

The team has developed a unique enclosure system that will protect the pen shells from predators, while still allowing juvenile fish the ability to use pen shells as a habitat in Pine Island Sound.

The different areas include creating custom jewelry from the pearls, harvesting the pen shell for its meat, "kidney scallops" and utilizing its sea silk.

Gamel discovered the abductor muscle used to close the shell is huge and strong and therefore had to be anesthetized, so the muscle relaxes. Although it was challenging to find the proper anesthesia, Gamel said they had great success in opening the shells.

When doing grafting, the team had a 95 percent pen shell survival rate with the production of more than 300 small pearls.

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