From a beach in Baynes Sound south of Courtenay to a frying pan in Victoria, oysters were on the menu Saturday night for Eric Bourquin and his wife at a friend’s house.
“Just pan-frying them up and we started having them as appetizers,” said Bourquin. “I bit into one and thought, wow a mouth full of rocks or something, I nearly busted my teeth and all of a sudden all these pearls started coming out.”
They couldn’t believe what they were seeing as even more pearls came out of the other half of the oyster.
“We were just thinking this is unreal like they kept coming, and I was squishing the other half of the oyster and they were coming out from everywhere,” he added.
In total there were 48 pearls, most of them small and round, but two were as big as molars.
“It was quite a surprise since we’ve been on the west coast our whole lives and we’ve never heard of anything like this,” said Eric’s wife Alice Dehen.
So how rare is it? Gordy McLelland of Mac’s Oysters near Union Bay says that’s a lot of pearls but not the most he’s ever heard of.
“Oh, that’s way rare. To find 49 that’s pretty awesome,” said McLelland.
He says someone he knows did find over 150 pearls in an oyster once but finding just one is hard to do.
It has to be from an oyster found on a beach where sand gets inside the oyster shell.
“It’ll go inside the oyster, the oyster will coat it with mother of pearl to stop the irritant and it just keeps coating away so some of them get bigger and bigger” said McLellan.
He adds, unlike South Sea pearls, these ones aren’t worth very much.