As we already mentioned, Bahrain is not a diving paradise: because of the dredging for land reclamation projects, which stir up silt and smother coral, most of the colar reefs are gone.
However there's still a couple of incredible, if not unique places: who would think of going diving and fish your own pearls?
This tiny Persian Gulf state witnessed the golden era of its pearl-diving industry in the 1920s, and its sad decline about 30 years later, influenced by the arrival of the cheaper Japanese cultured pearl. In the 1950s, Japanese businessmen began growing cultured pearls, selling them at a small fraction of what a Bahraini pearl cost. This effectively killed off the Bahraini pearl industry. But the legend of the Bahraini pearl lives on!
Nowadays since working divers stopped scouring Bahrain's waters for pearls, the oyster population has grown dramatically, posing an ecological threat to the area, each oyster can reproduce twice a year and can spawn billions of babies every time it reproduces.
In some places, colonies of oysters piled up on each other cover 400 square metres of sea floor, sucking huge amounts of nutrients from the water and affecting other sea life, including sea grass and dugongs. Partly because of this and partly because the owners recognized a unique business opportunity, recently some dive centers began offering diving trips down to Bahraini oyster beds, allowing divers to collect as many oyster shells as they can and to keep the pearls that they find!
Bahrain is the place where pearl diving began, and even though the industry is dead, it is cool to think that people can still get the chance to go diving and maybe find their own pearls.
Diving in Bahrain has been in the past years affected by dredging for land reclamation projects, which stir up silt and smother coral. Most of the colar reefs are gone, however there are literally a couple of Pearls left in this island: in Bahrain’s underwater scene, there's a couple of spots which are known for its pearl diving. Few spots in the world have such an abundance of oyster beds, and divers are free to collect as many shells as they can carry on specially organised pearl-diving trips. According to the statistics, you might find one pearl of value in every 100 shells and you can always get lucky!
Despite all the damage done, there's still one reef in Bahrain that has remained largely unharmed by reclamation practices: Bulthama. The small dive site is about a two-hour boat ride to the north of Bahrain and boasts an abundance of marine life, from beautiful hard and soft corals to moray eels, sea snakes and hundreds of species of fish. There’s only one catch, it can be quite difficult to get there.