National Geographic : 1963 Mar
Pearlers Empty Nets; Oyster Haul Is Scant Waters off Margarita Is land once yielded for tunes in pearls. Colum bus, sailing nearby, saw Indians wearing pearl ornaments but failed to investigate. Spanish ad venturers who followed greedily raided the beds, using Indian slaves as divers. Today a remnant of the pearling fleet dredges overfished beds. Luminous prize from an earlier harvest is the diameter of a real, a Ven ezuelan coin (actual size). These natural pearls are irregular in shape, where as cultured pearls tend to be more symmetrical. KODACHROMES© NATIONALGEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY Flaking with age, a colonial cannon testifies to long-ago dangers that threatened Juangriego on Margarita Island. Once pirates raided the town, confiscating riches in pearls. The Spanish fort, bristling with cannon, often drove them away. Now the government-restored bastion survives as an antique, and the wealth of Juangriego is a dream of the past. But the beauty of the bay, luring travelers, promises new prosperity.