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Marine Animal Encyclopedia

Black-lip Pearl Oyster Pinctada margaritifera

Black-lip pearl oysters begin life as a male before changing into a female two or three years later. Females produce millions of eggs, which are fertilized randomly and externally by the males’ sperm, before hatching into free-swimming larvae. The mobile larvae pass through various larval stages for about a month before eventually settling on the seafloor, after metamorphosing into the sessile (immobile) adult form. The black-lip pearl oyster is famous and much sought-after because it occasionally produces prized black pearls.

Black-lip Pearl Oysterzoom image
  • Class Bivalvia
  • Length Up to 12 in (30 cm) diameter
  • Habitat Hard substrata of inter- and subtidal zones; reefs
  • Distribution Gulf of Mexico, western and eastern Indian Ocean, western Pacific
Black-lip Pearl Oyster Habitat Mapzoom image