03 July 2013

Saving Singapore's Giant clams

To conserve these beautiful marine giants, it is important to understand exactly what is going out there on our shores. And Neo Mei Lin aka Giant Clam Girl has done just that with a recent paper.
What kinds of Giant clams can be found in Singapore? Are they endangered?

Mei Lin's reassessment shows that Singapore had five species of Giant clams and that all of them are highly threatened. Tridacna maxima and Tridacna squamosa are Critically Endangered, and Tridacna crocea is Endangered, while Hippopus hippopus and Tridacna gigas are sadly Presumed Nationally Extinct.

Except for Tridacna crocea, the other species are only present in very low numbers on our reefs.

Her paper shared how we have found tantalizing dead specimens of Hippoppus hippopus in our surveys and trips! I still hold out hope for finding a live one, although these are probably so rare in Singapore that they are functionally extinct (i.e., there are not enough adults to reproduce a sustainable population). Sigh.
And the surprise find of one Tridacna maxima on a submerged reef in Apr 2012!
Read all about our Giant clams in Nature in Singapore: Neo, M. L. & P. A. Todd, 2013. Conservation status reassessment of giant clams (Mollusca: Bivalvia: Tridacninae) in Singapore. Nature in Singapore, 6: 125–133. [PDF, 1.14 MB]

Mei Ling and her team are doing great work actively trying to save our Giant clams!

Here's more about her work in Jose Hong's article Bid to repopulate giant clams on Singapore's reefs Team of biologists aims to put back hundreds to add to marine diversity in the Straits Times 21 Apr 12;

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