for the failure of promising reefs. Those most frequently-heard are
that the currents sweep the oysters away, that they are devoured by
predaceous enemies, that they are covered by the shifting bottom, or
that they voluntarily move to new grounds.
oysters are found in well-known and permanently located banks or paars
in the upper end of the Gulf of Manaar, in the wide shallow plateau
off the northwest end of the island and directly south of Adams Bridge.
The hard calcrete bottom is formed mostly of sand combined with organic
remains in a compact mass and with more or less coral and shell
deposits. The density of the water, as determined by Professor Herdman
(to whose important and valuable report1 we are indebted for
much information), is fairly constant at 1.023, and the temperature has
a normal range of from 82° to 86° F. during the greater part of the
year. The charts and records refer to about twenty paars, but most of
these have never yielded extensively, either to the English or to the
Dutch. In the aggregate, they cover an area fifty miles in length and
twenty miles in width. Most of them are from five to twenty
miles from the shore, and at a depth of five to ten fathoms. The
principal paars are Cheval, Madaragam, Periya, Muttuva-ratu, Karativu,
Vankalai, Chilaw, and Condatchy. Only three have afforded profitable
fisheries in recent years, i. e.: Cheval, Madaragam and Muttuvaratu.
other paars are of practically no economic value at the present time.
They become populated with tens of millions of oysters, which
mysteriously disappear before they are old enough for gathering.
Especially is this true of the Periya paar, which is about fifteen
miles from the shore, and runs eleven miles north and south, varying
from one to two miles in width. Frequently this is found covered with
young oysters, which almost invariably disappear before the next
inspection, owing, probably, to their being covered by the shifting
bottom caused by the southwest monsoon. The natives call this the
"Mother paar," under the impression that these oysters migrate to the
Ceylon government has given very careful attention to all matters
affecting the prosperity of the pearl resources. It has maintained a
"Pearl Fishery Establishment," consisting of a superintendent, an
inspector and numerous divers, attendants, and sailors. The inspector
examines the paars, determines when and to what extent they should be
fished, and directs the operations. The superintendent conducts the
work on shore, divides and sells the oysters, etc. The expense of this
establishment has approximated $40,000 per annum when there has been a
fishery, and about $22,500 without fishery expenses.
1 ".Pearl Oyster Fisheries of the Gulf of Manaar," S vols., London, 1903-1906.