Marine Monday: Giant Clam - Oceana USA
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January 10, 2012

Marine Monday: Giant Clam

There’s a lot more to clams than clam chowder. Sure, they just look like a hinged shell with squishy stuff inside, but make them a little bit bigger—or a lot bigger—and you can see how complex they actually are.

We don’t even need science fiction to do it. The giant clam can grow up to five feet long. Unsurprisingly, it’s the world’s biggest bivalve. It lives on reef flats and shallow lagoons in the Indo-Pacific, and it’s one of the most amazing clams you could ever hope to see.

Like its smaller cousins, the giant clam is a filter feeder, surviving off of small particles in the water. But it also has another trick up its shell. It farms out algae inside its shell, giving the big bivalve a constant flow of nutrients.

The giant clam is immobile, but luckily its soft body is safely incased inside its huge shell. Sometimes larger clams can’t close their shells all the way, which gives us a glimpse of their surprisingly colorful—and beautiful—body linings, called mantles.

You can learn more about giant clams and other cool creatures from Oceana’s marine wildlife encyclopedia.