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Wisdom Wednesday 08/19/20

Shore Buddies Wisdom Wednesday

Image of a giant clam by Instagram user Amy Mercer

Photo by Amy Mercer

Giant clams were first documented by an Italian explorer, as early as 1521. The largest known specimen of the giant clam, till date, was found in 1817, off the north-western coast of Sumatra. It was 4.49 ft. long, and its shells weighed 510 lbs. In 1956, another giant clam that was about 3.77 ft. long was found in Japan, with its shells weighing about 730 lbs. Because of its sessile nature, the moment the giant clam chooses a spot as its ‘home’, it fastens itself to the same, and then cannot go elsewhere for the rest of its life. Adult giant clams cannot close their shells completely. This makes them the only species of clams unable to do so. Giant clams are omnivorous in nature, meaning that they feed on both plants and animals. The algae that grow within their mantle tissue are their main source of food. The giant clams absorb sugars and proteins, which these algae produce as they photosynthesize. The nutrition that they get from these algae enable them to acquire such enormous sizes. Apart from this, like many other marine organisms, giant clams are also known to filter feed. Through filter feeding, they eat small food particles floating in water, and even small animals present in their surroundings. By nature, giant clams are hermaphrodites. They possess the reproductive organs of both the sexes. Despite this, they cannot reproduce on their own. On the contrary, they release sperms and eggs into the water. When the eggs come in contact with the sperms of another giant clam, they get fertilized. The fertilized eggs float in water for around 12 hours before they hatch. A single giant clam can release over 500 million eggs at one time.