About Cortes Pearls

Pearl Diver

Sea of Cortes Pearls

Since 1535, the year Cortes brought back the first black pearls from Santa Cruz (present day La Paz), Mexico was known for nearly three centuries as the world's sole source of the pearls produced by the Pteria Sterna, (Rainbow-lipped oyster) and the Pinctada Mazatlanica (La Paz black-lipped pearl oyster).

By 1920 the pearl beds on the Baja California side of the Sea of Cortes had become commercially exhausted, due to heavy overfishing caused by the introduction of diving suits in 1874.

The remaining fisheries, on the mainland side, were struck by the environmental changes caused by Hoover Dam's construction in 1936 which, combined with the overfishing of the pearl beds, caused the nearly extinction of the oysters. In 1939 a ban was imposed on the capture or fishery of the Pinctada Mazatlanica.

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