Sea Treasures: Cyrtonaias Tampicoensis, Palau, 2013, 25g


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Concho River Pearl, U.S. Texas.

The Concho River is a river in the U.S. state of Texas. Concho is Spanish for “shell”; the river was so named due to its abundance of freshwater mussels, such as the Tampico pearly mussel (Cyrtonaias tampicoensis).

Hernando de Ugarte y la Concha, Governor of New Mexico, dispatched an expedition from Santa Fe in 1650 led by Captain Diego del Castillo, to explore what is now north central Texas. The expedition reached the territory of the Tejas Indians, and reported finding pearls on the Concho River. The Diego de Guadalajara expedition was launched in 1654 to follow up on Castillo’s findings. The Spanish explored the river for the gem-quality purple to pink pearls produced by that species. The mussels were systematically harvested for only a short time because it was soon realized that the yield of pearls was too low for their harvest to be economically viable.

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