GIANT clams, also known as taklobo in Filipino, used to be “killer clams” since they were once thought to bite divers’ limbs off. In truth, they can only gently grip a diver’s limb when they slowly close their shells as a defensive reaction. The taklobo were once common in coral reef areas, but during the 1980s they were collected by coastal communities for food or to sell their shells. Now these gentle giants are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild Flora and Fauna, to make sure that international trade will not threaten the species.
The taklobo eat by sucking in water and filtering it for nutrients in their bodies. This helps clean the water around them, making them important for a healthy marine ecosystem.
Bolinao, Pangasinan is an example of a province that is reintroducing giant clams to their waters. The shallow coast of Silaqui Island is where numerous clams are now being released. In partnership with the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute, the giant clams are grown in tanks at the Bolinao Marine Laboratory (BML) until they’re 5 centimeters wide. After this, they’re moved to an ocean nursery until they grow too big to be eaten by their predators. At this age, they can be brought to their new homes.
One of the biggest challenges is that there is not enough funding the personnel. It takes a lot of people to clean and bring the clams to the nursery. Because they lack funding, the clams tend to be left to fend for themselves.
Bolinao is fast becoming known by tourists for their taklobo. Other provinces, such as Anilao and Davao also get their clams from the BML in hopes of restocking these in their coasts. Hopefully, this will save the species from extinction while helping keep their coasts clean.