Killer Clam

Norbert Probst

Nuremberg, Germany

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Artist's Description

Short before sunset: Johanna watches a huge Giant Clam, (Tridacna gigas) close a after sunrise.

Seleyar island, South Sulawesi, Indonesia, Banda Sea

Canon EOS 5D, 4.0/17-40mm L USM, 1/250s, f9, ISO 100, Seacam housing, Seaflash


An interesting detail of this clam

As is often the case with uncharacteristically large species, the giant clam has been historically misunderstood. It was known in times past as the killer clam or man-eating clam, and reputable scientific and technical manuals once claimed that the great mollusc had caused deaths; versions of the U.S. Navy Diving Manual even gave detailed instructions for releasing oneself from its grasp by severing the adductor muscles used to close its shell.
In an account of the discovery of the Pearl of Lao Tzu, Wilburn Cobb said he was told that a Dyak diver was drowned when the Tridacna closed its shell on his arm.
Today the giant clam is considered neither aggressive nor particularly dangerous. While it is certainly capable of gripping a person, the shell’s closing action is defensive, not aggressive and the shell valves close too slowly to pose a serious threat. Furthermore, many large individuals are unable to completely close their shells.
The largest known T. gigas specimen measured 137 cm. It was discovered around 1817 on the north western coast of Sumatra. The weight of the two shells was 230 kilograms. This suggests that the live weight of the animal would have been roughly 250 kilograms.

Artwork Comments

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