Today's animal of the day is the world's largest bivalve mollusk, the giant clam.
Giant clams are scientifically named Tridacna gigas and are a vulnerable species. They can weigh as much as 200 kilograms and live for 100 years. The giant clam is not a prolific breeder, which makes excessive fishing a problem for the existing population.
Giant clam populations in the wild have declined because they are heavily fished for souvenirs and meat and to supply a high-demand marine aquarium trade. Although they can live for over 100 years, they have delayed maturity and a partially insufficient reproduction system, making the population vulnerable to depletion. Read on to learn more fun facts about the giant clam.
- Giant clams can live for over 100 years and weigh as much as 200 kilograms.
- Once a giant clam settles and starts growing, they never move from the same spot.
- These giant mollusks get part of their nutrition from algae found in their mantle and the rest from filter feeding on plankton.
- Zooxanthellae are the algae responsible for providing sugars and proteins to the giant clam.
- The giant clam's mantle is pigmented and contains amino acids to aid in providing sunblock.
- One way to tell if a giant clam is doing well is to observe its colors; if they are vibrant, the clam is healthy; if they are white or bleaching out, the clam is dying.