Pearl Harbor was originally named by the native Hawaiians, who called it “Wai Momi” (pearl waters). The harbor was once full of pearl-producing oysters, although Hawaiians likely valued them more for their shells and meat than for the shiny nuggets prized by westerners. Europeans arrived in 1778, however, and within ten years, the pearls had become they prime attraction for newcomers and natives alike. By the early 1800s, the pearl trade was booming… but less than a century later, overfishing, agricultural runoff and other development all but killed off the oyster population.

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