FISHERS OF. PEARLS
EARL FISHING, or
pearling as it is more usually called, has a certain amount of glamor
attached to it in the mind of the ordinary person, as has any more than
usually risky pursuit. But it is not so profitable as you may have been
led to believe, though in many places it is a regular settled industry
and there is a good living to be made out of it.
begin with the milder adventure of river-pearling or pearl-mussel
hunting, this is a more or less casual affair as carried on in some
European rivers—in the upper reaches of the Danube, for example, near
Passau in Bavaria, or in the Scotch rivers. Such fishing is sporadic
and is not looked on as an industry. Men and boys go out when fancy
dictates, the former when there is nothing else to do, the latter
preferably during school hours. Some wade in shallow waters and with a
cleft stick pick up the clams they chance to see; others go out in
flat-bottomed boats or in rowboats of the usual kind. Their equipment
consists chiefly of a long narrow wooden box arrangement, to one end
of which a glass pane has been fitted.
pearler, or clam-hunter, leans over the side of the boat and peers
through his box into the water. If, by the aid of this device, a clam
or a bed of clams is revealed, the long cleft pole is then brought into
action, and this can be made to close by means of a ring, a contrivance
on the same principle as the pruning tools used on trees. But it
requires considerable practice to locate the clams, for their colors
blend wonderfully well with the river pebbles.
a sufficient number of them have been gathered, the mussels are opened.
Then they are eagerly searched for gems. One in five hundred may
contain a pearly "indication," one in a thousand may reveal a pretty
fancy-colored seed-pearl or