Sea Creature of Week!

Nov 14 2011

Giant Clam

Scientific name: Tridacna Gigas

Family: Cardioidea 

Home: This super-sized clam is native to the warm waters of the Indo-Pacific region. It must choose its home wisely since once attached to a spot on the reef it remain there permanently. An ideal piece of reef real estate is a spot with plenty of sunlight to bask in!

Characteristics: The shells’ of a giant clam are made of calcium carbonate and have 4 to 5 vertical fold in them. This behemoth of a mollusk can grow to be over 4 ft in length and weigh over 500 lbs! Coloration is another distinguishing characteristic of this bottom dweller, with hues and patterns varying largely from clam to clam. When young it is difficult to distinguish this clam from others. Over time, however, our calmy sea friend shows its true size and true (beautiful) colors.

Food: The giant clam’s ability to grow as much as it does is directly connected to the billions of algae that live its mantle tissue. These algae produce nutrients (sugars and proteins) which the clam feeds on. In exchange for an unlimited supply of food,  the clam offers the algae a safe place to live and catch the rays needed for photosynthesis. In addition to the food provided to them by their algae tenants, they also use a siphon to catch passing plankton.

Fun Facts

• No two giant clams have the same colors and patterns!

• The chance of finding a suitable mate is significantly increased by the fact that this fascinating sea creature is a hermaphrodite; meaning it produces both sperm and eggs!

• The Giant Clam is the only clam that is unable to close its shells completely!

• Over-harvesting of the giant clam for food, shells and the aquarium trade posses a real threat to this marine population! #NotSoFunFact

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