Sabah aims to conserve giant clams

Posted on December 27, 2011. Filed under: Bio-diversity |

— Bernama

SEMPORNA: The Giant Clam Culture Centre on Buhey Dulang Island plays a vital role in conserving the marine ecosystem at the Tun Sakaran Marine Park off the coast of Semporna, Sabah.

The centre, the first of its kind under Sabah Parks, conducts research and cultures giant clams with seeds supplied to the local community to help them reduce their over-reliance on natural marine resources.

The centre, established in 2006 under the Semporna Islands Darwin Project, is the result of cooperation between Sabah Parks and the Marine Conservation Society, Uni­ted ­King­dom.

Sabah Parks marine research officer Nasrulhakim Maidin noted that giant clam culture is important because their numbers have depleted from over-harvesting around the waters of Semporna.

The giant clam is a mollusc in the Bivalvia class that thrives in Indo-Pacific waters.

There are seven species of giant clams in Malaysian waters, with some growing up to 60cm in length.

According to Nasrul, giant clams not only thrive on plankton but also produce their own nutrients through photosynthesis with the help of algae.

“The giant clam plays an important role in the marine ecosystem as it filters the water,” he said.

In the long term, said Nasrul, there are plans to commercialise the giant clams for ornamental purposes.

Elvin Michael Bavoh, a marine officer at Tun Sakaran Marine Parks first research and culture centre, noted so far about 2,000 seeds have been relocated to the surrounding areas.

Another 1,000 seeds are waiting to be relocated from the centre.

He pointed out that the effort to culture giant clams involves two species – Tridacna gaigas and Tridacna derasa – which are fast disappearing in the waters of Semporna.

Currently only the Tridacna derasa is being cultured.

In August, several sea nomads known as Palauh were seen picking relocated giant clams not far from the Buhey Dulang island.

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