Pinctada margaritifera   (Linnaeus,  1758) (Oyster)
Organism information awaits expert curation
Class: Bivalvia

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Size: 100-300 mm

Color: Brown to greenish brown

Shell rather thick and large (attaining 25 cm in length), subcircular in outline, with a short and ill defined posterior ear which is not drawn out into a wing-like process. Anterior margin markedly protruding beyond the tip of anterior ear. Outer surface of valves, when not worn, with densely set, flattened, imbricating concentric scales and moderately long, parallel-sided and flattened spines with tapering or rounded ends. Spines lying relatively flat on surface of valves, arranged in radial rows and often strongly projecting on shell margins. Hinge completely devoid of teeth. Internal nacreous area silvery, with a darker smoky hue and a hint of red and green iridescence on border. Non-nacreous area very dark. The hinge is devoid of teeth and much shorter than the width of shell. Anterior border of the body of shell extends far in advance of the anterior ear lobe. Byssal notch is broad. Anterior ear is well developed, posterior ear and posterior sinus are absent. Posterior end meets the hinge almost at right angles. Shell valves are moderately convex. The general colouration externally is dark grayish brown with a greenish tinge and with radially distributed white sppts. These spots represent the basal portions of the successive growth processes, the
nacreous layer is iridescent with a silvery sheen for the most part except distally where it is sooty black in colour. The non-nacreous border is very dark, sometimes with faint markings. Due to the dark marginal colouration this species is called 'Black lip'. The width of the nacreous region at the hinge about two-thirds of of the same in the broadest region of the valve.

Pearl oysters start life as males and change into females after 2-3 years. Each female can release millions of eggs into the water, which are fertilized externally by sperm from the male. Eggs hatch and the oysters pass through various larval phases during which they remain swimming freely in the water. At between 25 and 35 days of age the larvae start to spend more time crawling on the bottom and finally metamorphose into a juvenile pearl oyster that attaches itself to the substrate.

Synonym (s)
Pinctada galtsoffi Bartsch, 1931
(Junior synonym)
Pinctada nigromarginata (Saville-Kent, 1890)
Meleagrina margaritifera (Linnaeus, 1758)
Avicula cumingii Reeve, 1857
Margarita sinensis Leach, 1814
Margaritifera fimbriata Bryan, 1915
Margaritiphora communis Megerle von Muhlfeld, 1811
Meleagrina nigromarginata Saville-Kent, 1893
Mytilus margaritiferus Linnaeus, 1758
Pinctada foliacea Roding, 1798
Pteria (Margaritifera) margaritifera var. typica Jameson, 1901
Margaritifera margaritifera Hornell, 1922a
Pteria margaritifera Gravely, 1941

Common Name (s)
• Black Lip Pearl Shell (English)
• Black Lip (English)
• Pearl Oyster
Economic Importance and Threats
Importance:  Commercial
(Used in pearl production, fisheries)
Cultured:  Yes

Habitat:  Estuarine, Rocky, Coastal
Trophic Level:  Consumer
Prey:  Plankton


• Lakshadweep INDIA
• Palk Bay (Lat: 9.5) (Long: 79.25) INDIA
• East Coast, Coromandel, Pulicat Lake INDIA (Record: 1997-1998)
• Andaman and Nicobar Islands INDIA
• Tamil Nadu, Dhanushkodi INDIA
• Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Andaman Islands INDIA

Literature Source(s)
  • Tikadar, BK; Daniel, A and Subbarao, NV (1986) Sea shore animals of Andaman and Nicobar Islands The Director, ZSI, Kolkatta 188 Available at - ZSI, Pune
  • Alfred, JRB; Das, AK and Sanyal, AK (Eds.) (1998) Faunal diversity in India ZSI, Calcutta 1-497 Available at - NCL, Pune
  • Subba Rao, NV and Dey, A (2000) Catalogue of marine molluscs of Andaman and Nicobar Islands Occasional paper no 187 Records of the Zoological Survey of India ZSI 1-323 Available at - NCL, Pune
  • OBIS Indo-Pacific molluscan database Available at -
  • Nagabhushanam, AK and Krishnan, S (1993) Observations on the distribution of some of the marine organism inhabiting the inter-tidal zone along the western continental shelf of the Bay of Bengal, with particular reference to the Tamil Nadu coastal strip Records of the Zoological Survey of India 93(3-4) 449-490 Available at - ZSI, Pune
  • Oliver, PG; Holmes, AM; Killeen, lJ and Wood, H (2004) Annotated checklist of the marine Bivalvia of Rodrigues Journal of Natural History Taylor and Francis 38 3229-3272 Available at -
  • Anderlini, VC; AlHarmi, L; de Lappe, BW; Risebrough, RW; Walker, W; Simoneit, BRT and Newton, AS (1981) Distribution of hydrocarbons in the oyster, Pinctada margaritifera, along the coast of Kuwait Marine Pollution Bulletin 12(2) 57-62 Available at - Zoological records
  • Ray, HC (1977) Contribution to the knowledge of the molluscan fauna of Maungmagan, Lower Burma (with descriptions of one new genus and species of the Family Turridae (Gastropoda) 8) Contribution to the knowledge of the molluscan fauna of Maungmagan, Lower Burma (with descriptions of one new genus and species of the Family Turridae (Gastropoda) 8) Indian Museum, Calcutta 1-150 Available at - Zoological Records (Burma marine)
  • Allen, GR (2005) Reef fishes of northwestern Madagascar RAP Bulletin of Biological Assessment 31 39-48
  • Zenetos, A; Gofas, S; Russo, G and Templado, J CIESM Atlas of exotic molluscs in the Mediterranean CIESM Available at -
  • Hosseinzadeh, H; Daghoghi, B and Rameshi, H (2001) Atlas of the Persian Gulf molluscs Oman sea fisheries research center, Oman 208 Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Sealifebase Available at -
  • Ellis, S and Haws, M (1999) Producing pearls using the black lip pearl oyster (Pinctada margaritifera) Aquafarmer information sheet Center for Tropical and Subtropical Aquaculture 141 8 pp Available at -
  • Poutiers, JM (1998) Bivalves FAO species identification guide for fishery purposes. The living marine resources of the western central Pacific. Volume 1: Seaweeds, corals, bivalves and gastropods FAO, Rome 1 686 pp Available at -
  • Raj, PJS, Tilak, JL and Kalaimani, G (2002) Experiments in restoration of benthic biodiversity in Pulicat Lake, south India Journal of the Marine Biological Association of India The Marine Biological Association of India, Cochin 44(1 & 2) 37-45 Available at - NIO, Goa
  • Society for the Management of European Biodiversity Data (2009) World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) Available at -
  • Untawale, AG; Dhargalkar, VK and Deshmukhe, GV (2000) Prioritization of potential sites for marine biodiversity conservation in India Setting biodiversity conservation priorities for India: Summary of the findings and conclusions of the biodiversity conservation prioritization project World Wide Fund for Nature - India, New Delhi (India) Available at -
  • Frank, B (1998) Available at -
  • Samuel, VD; Chacko, D and Edward, JKP (2005) Preliminary study on the molluscan diversity of “the lost world’’– Dhanushkodi, east coast of India Proceedings of the National Seminar on Reef Ecosystem Remediation SDMRI Special Research Publication No.9 54-58 Available at -
  • Rao, KV and Rao, KS (1974) Pearl Oysters The commercial molluscs of India Bulletin Of Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute CMFRI, Cochin 25 84-105 Available at -
  • Sundaram, KS; Sarvesan, R; Mohamed, KH and Shanbhogue, SL (1969) Catalogue of molluscs, prawns, stomatopods and marine algae in the reference collections of the central marine fisheries research institute Bulletin Of Central Marine Fisheries Research Institute CMFRI, Cochin 9 1-52 Available at -
  • Jones, S (1969) The molluscan fishery resources of India Proceedings of the Symposium on Mollusca CMFRI 906-918 Available at -
  • Pillai, PKM and Augustine, SK (2000) A code list of common marine living resources of the Indian seas CMFRI Special Publication No.12 CMFRI 1-115 Available at -

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