Monday, June 8, 2015

Diving for Pearls in Bahrain

Do you have a bucket list?  Almost immediately after we decided to move to Bahrain, diving for pearls was added to my bucket list.

I can put a big CHECK next to that box.

Bahrain is famous for their pearls. Before the discovery of oil, pearl diving was the main source of income and the foundation for many of the communities on the island. Even today, Bahrain pearls are very valuable and highly prized for their beauty.

Here is a link to a bit of history about the Bahraini pearl industry.

Even the Queen of England preferred Bahrain pearls.

It is not easy to find a dive operator that will take out groups to dive for pearls. It is a shallow area, only 15 meters and there is not a lot to see there except the oysters.

And to top it off, the oysters are very young.  There is not much of a chance you will actually find a pearl.  However, this is the only place in the world that you can dive for pearls and I was determined to experience the dive.

I finally connected with a dive operator here on the Island of Bahrain, ScubaMasters. Just a few days ago they notified me that they were going to take a dive group out to the oyster beds.

The trip was this last Saturday morning leaving from the Amwaj Marina. Amwaj Island is located just across a bridge on the tip of Bahrain. We left home about 6AM to make it there by 6:30.

Of course I had to take a selfie as we prepared to leave the marina. My kids will tell you that this picture looks like every other selfie we have taken before a dive. Here we are in our swim suites with a boat stacked with air tanks. Looks the same as every other dive - NOT! It was special and this is a special photo to me.

You will get a chuckle out of this -- daughter AJ says in this picture we look just the same as every other dive only a bit older.  LSHFOC (Laughed so hard I fell out of my chair.)
It took one hour by boat to arrive at the dive area. The seas were a bit choppy but not terribly bad. I was glad it was only one hour.  For any serious diving close to Bahrain, you have to go two hours out by boat.

If you are reading this blog in an email, you will have to go to my blog page to view this video of Amwaj Marina as we left for the dive.

We made two drift dives. The current was not extremely strong but you didn't spend much time looking around either. The boat followed us on the surface and came to pick us up when we surfaced. Not my favorite diving, but fun anyway.

On this dive we did something else we have never done. We shot video.

We just purchased a small video camera like BHB and son-in-law, RB use on dives. If you have followed my blog, you probably have seen the shark video where we had a hundred sharks swimming around us. That video was filmed by RB with the same model camera. D and I are just learning how to use the camera so don't expect great videos.  This is our very first experience shooting underwater.

You will have to go to my blog page to view this video D took of me underwater.  

PLEASE (to my children) do not send me an email to tell me how bad my diving form is.  I am not a master diver - I am just having fun!

The second dive was the most enjoyable for me.  I stopped picking up oysters and just drifted along enjoying the view.  I saw a sea snake that was yellow and green. There were a couple of really pretty angel fish and lots of blemies. It was much nicer than I anticipated. That was a bonus.

I think D did not know he was filming when he shot this video. However, it is a good view of the sea floor. Remember, go to my blog page to view the videos.

Here is a video of me showing D an oyster I just plucked from the sea floor.

Opening up the oysters and looking for pearls was terribly messy. And, since the chances were slim to zero we would find one, D and I opted to not participate in that endeavor. The pearl divers used to be paid depending on the number of pearls they found. It was a hard job.

This is an old, historical photo of the divers looking for pearls in the oysters.
Sometimes the pearls are really small. I did not find this one - this is a photo from the web. Darn! I really wanted one of those pearls.
One of my oysters waiting to be opened after we returned to the boat.
My "catch". I might not have found a pearl, but it was a gem of a dive.

Compared to our dives in the Caribbean, this was not a great dive. However, since you can’t dive for Bahraini pearls anywhere else, it was an adventure and something I will remember.

Now, I need to talk D into “discovering” a Bahrain pearl for my neck. I would prefer a gold setting instead of a messy oyster in a shell.


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