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Old 02-23-2015, 04:15 PM
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RickI RickI is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2004
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Default Pearl Diving In The Gulf Of California In Mexico?

I understand Mexico used to be a major supplier of pearls to the world. The NY Times claimed in an article in 1903, that in the previous year, $2,000,000. in pearls had been recovered. That figure roughly equates to $55,555,555. in present day dollars allowing for inflation. Overexploitation and disease in the oysters pretty much destroyed the industry and it was gone by the 1940s.

I came across this information in researching the following illustration from "Harpers Weekly" in August 7, 1869.


I understand most of the pearl divers were Yaqui indians. I suspect the upper portion of the print is of a village scene and the process of recruitment?

An excerpt follows from: ;

"The pearling industry in Baja really took off in the mid-nineteenth century as enterprising, business-minded armadores hired native divers (mainly Yaqui Indians from Sonora) to explore the numerous shallow coves between La Paz and MulegĂ©, and around the islands including Cerralvo and Isla EspĂ*ritu Santo. Diving was a seasonal occupation, primarily carried out during the warm months from May to late September. At other times of the year, water temperatures and higher winds made diving difficult or impossible. The Indian divers worked from rustic canoes for up to five hours a day, armed with a short sharpened stick which did double duty, to pry oyster shells off the seabed and to ward off lurking sharks and manta rays. The divers earned a share of the catch, but their rewards were meager and benefits few."

A pearl fishing fleet.

A documentary about pearls
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transcribed by:
Rick Iossi

Last edited by RickI; 02-27-2015 at 10:25 AM.
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