Pinctada maxima is a species of pearl oyster, a marine bivalve mollusk belonging to the family Pteriidae, the pearl oysters. There are two different color varieties: the White lipped oyster and the Gold lipped oyster.
These bivalves are considered to be the largest pearl oysters in the world. They have a very strong inner shell layer composed of nacre, also known as “mother of pearl”. They’re significant in the cultured pearl industry as they are used to produce South Sea pearls.
This species can be found in Fiji, Tahiti, Indonesia, Australia and the Philippines.
These oysters grow very large, up to 12 inches in diameter. The two color varieties have different coloration in the outer edge of the interior. This mother of pearl, or nacre, is held responsible for the color of the pearls that the oyster can produce. Water temperature, plankton, and sediments determine which color variety is more common within a given area.
Image Caption: Pinctada Maxima. Credit: Thesupermat/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)