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Gobsmacked dad finds two pearls in oyster bought from Newquay fishmongers

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: October 03, 2013

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A DAD from Crantock was "gobsmacked" when he slurped down an oyster in his local fishmongers on Saturday – and found two pearls inside.

David Bartram, 39, of West Pentire Road, thought he was chomping on pieces of shell until he spat them into his hand and saw the chalky white spheres.

His discovery, which has shocked experts, marks the second time this year a Pacific oyster purchased from E Rawle and Co, on East Street, Newquay, has concealed the rare stones.

Father of two David said it was lucky he subscribed to the 'chew it' rather than 'neck it' approach to oyster-eating, otherwise he may not have felt the pearls. And although he is still unsure how much his find might be worth, his pals have nicknamed him the Earl of Pearl.

He said: "I usually pop in if I'm passing so I ordered three.

"I was gobsmacked when I found the pearls in the last one. Most people just neck oysters, so it's lucky I prefer to give them a good swish round my mouth.

"I was buzzing at the time. I went to buy a lottery ticket straightaway but it didn't come up; I think I'd used up all my luck for that day.

"One of my mates has started calling me the Earl of Pearl, because I won't shut up about it. If they are worth a couple of grand I'll be more than happy."

Fishmonger Gareth Horner said the family business had been trading since 1936 and this was the first year a pearl had been found. In February, local man James Humphries, 34, found a single pearl in an oyster he bought from Mr Horner, who sources the molluscs from Fowey.

Mr Horner said: "David's a regular customer and we are absolutely delighted for him. We can't guarantee that everyone will find a pearl in their oyster but if people want to try them out we'd be willing to accommodate."

Matt Slater, marine awareness officer at Cornwall Wildlife Trust, said pearls were formed when a foreign body, such as a grain of sand, enters the oyster's shell and is then encased in layers of hard calcium for the creature's protection. Pearls are usually found in pearl oysters, rather than Pacific ones, and can take many years to form.

Mr Slater said: "I'm absolutely amazed. It's very rare indeed and this is the first time I've heard of it."

'Oyster Lady' Katy Davidson, Newquay's resident expert and member of the exclusive World Oyster Society, was equally shocked by Mr Bartram's find.

"It is very rare," she said. "I've opened so many oysters and never found a pearl so he's very lucky."

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