It is one of the pearl farms own by TAHITI PEARL MARKET that we begin to understand the work necessary to cultivate Tahitian pearls. Located on the atoll of Ahe, Motu Tahiri Pearl farm employs around 40 people. Originally Motu Tahiri was the name of the island on which the pearl farm is situated. In Tahitian its name means the windswept island. There are no cars and no roads.
On Motu Tahiri, a whole community has been created with a village: a small store, a shared kitchen, a recreation space. The village has been created so as to be self-sufficient between the passages of the cargo ships.
From 4 am, the power stations supplies the pearl farm and the work start as soon as the sun rises. Because pearl oyster can’t support heat well it is best to work on them when the sun is still low in the sky and for no longer than 20 minutes at a time. Every month, the oysters are taken out of the water to be cleaned of algae and parasites in preparation for either the grafting or harvesting processes.
On the water there are three boats that ferry between the island and the pearl farms, there are 2 or 3 divers per boat who will dive to collect the pearl oysters that are located at a depth of 20 meters. Though the lagoons currents are for the most part calm, it is not a rare occurrence to come across a diversity of sea life: fishes of various colours and shapes, turtles, manta rays and the silent guardian of the deep, sharks. Although these sharks are rarely aggressive the divers remain vigilant nonetheless.
On the pearl farm, there are several teams: the divers, who are in charge of transporting the oyster to the work stations and several teams responsible for cleaning, preparing the oysters for grafting and the actual grafting of the pearl oysters. The workshop retains a smell of algae which reminds us of the lagoon just a few feet away. Around 10 people work on cleaning the oysters, because in only two weeks algae and mollusc have covered the pearl oysters surface.