Rescuing the Gentle Giants

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Charles Waters, University of Auckland, Institute of Marine Science
Scott Ewing
Richard Story, Cook Islands Ministry of Marine Resources
Mark J. Costello, University of Auckland
Corals are not the only marine organism in trouble. Giant clams are ecologically important because they clean seawater, and their huge shells are home to other marine creatures. They are also a key source of food and income; their vibrant colors make them prize aquarium pets! Due to over-harvesting, many giant clam populations are at the brink of extinction. Giant clams can be raised in hatcheries, but relocating them to coral reefs is challenging. We met that challenge by placing 50 clams in simple, easy-to-build cages for about 3 weeks. Here the clams got protection from predators and water turbulence. Survival for clams inside the cages was much higher than it was for unprotected clams. These results are very encouraging. You can help by using social media to encourage giant clam restoration projects in communities near and far. As you will see, it can be done!
Original Publication
Waters, C.G., Story, R., and Costello, M.J. 2013. A methodology for recruiting a giant clam, Tridacna maxima, directly to natural substrata: A first step in reversing functional extinctions? Biological Conservation, 160: 19-24.

By the Numbers

Over 40,000 students in 50 US states, the US Virgin Islands, and 25 countries participated as judges in the 2016 Ocean 180 Video Challenge.