FACT SHEET 8
• Giant clams are filter-feeding animals which circulate water in and out of their bodies using special gills. They are the largest living bivalve mollusc. They grow to well over a meter and weigh up to 200kg.
• Like corals, giant clams have symbiotic algae living inside them (zooxanthellae) that give them energy and form beautiful coloured patterns on their flesh.
• Giant clams live on the floor, or embedded in rock or coral usually below the water line.
• Like sponges, they play a significant role in cleaning the water of suspended matter.
• Giant clams have been heavily harvested throughout the Indo-Pacific for their meat and shells (which are sold in the curios trade) and are now listed as vulnerable by the IUCN (the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources).
• Giant clams are beautiful to look at but, like any marine organism, should not be touched.
• Reef Check Australia identify and monitor the Giant Clam. Their numbers on coral reefs have declined due to over-fishing.
Interesting Fact: The average lifespan of a giant clam in the wild is over 100 years old.
• ReefED: http://www.reefed.edu.au/home/explorer/animals/marine_invertebrates/molluscs/clams
• Aquasearch: http://www.aquasearch.net.au/aqua/clamculture.htm