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  The Giant Clam  Conservation Project
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           Concerned with the decreasing number of giant clams in Malaysia the Reef Research Group initiated a study determine the status, distribution and abundance of these endangered animals.

Conservation and Tourism

            Ecotourism is becoming more important as the public realizes the importance of conservation and a clean environment. The coral reef islands of Johore are pristine and special. These frames depict scenes from the islands of Johore.

         The Giant Clam project hopes to improve the status of these islands and at the same time return a lost heritage to its natural home. In doing so we hope to educate the public on the values of conservation and ecotourism. The local language is interspersed with words describing the giant clams. Conservation can co-exist and bring mutual benefit to both. We only hope that the Giant Clam Project will realize this goals.

Where They Are Found

            In Johore clams are found on four main habitats – the submerged reef, the reef flat, the seagrass and sand.

           Most giant clams are found on coral reefs where the water is clean. Here sunlight penetrates to the bottom of the sea. Light is important for the clams survival because a type of plankton – the zooxanthellae – lives within the bodies of giant clams. The plankton being plants need light to photosynthesize. In turn it provides the clams with food for the latter’s survival.

          Johore’s clear coral reef islands such as Pulau Aur, Pulau Pemanggil, Pulau Besar, Pulau Tengah and Pulau Tinggi are ideal habitats for the gaint clams. However the clams are restricted to shallow waters because in clears waters light intensity is necessary for the survival is only limited to shallow reef areas.

        The baby clams to be reintroduced to Johore will be located at Pulau Tinggi Marine Park.

Going...Going…Gone

         SADLY DUE TO a number of reasons the biggest clams are locally extinct. The other species of giant clams (there are 6 in Johore) will also be following the same route. Of the eight species of giant clams throughout the world most are considered endangered. Johore still has the majority of clams left but unless something is done they will face extinction.

What Are Giant Clams

        Before settling on coral reefs, the fertilized eggs of the clams float in the water and develop into giant clam larvae. These then search for suitable substrate on the reefs. These larvae feed phytoplankton in the water. In large clams water in taken in through in the inhalen siphon and expelled through the exhalent siphon. Within the mantle are functional organs of the clams. The reflect the efficient adaptation of these clams not only depend on the symbiotic relationship for the food but also filters the reef water for its food. Within the body are also the heart, kidneys and the reproductive organs. Two large adductor mules hold the large shells together.

           RESEARCH BY The Reef Research Group of Universiti Sains Malaysia discovered the precarious status of the giant clams in Johore. The matter was discussed with the Johore State State Government in 1996. Realizing the importance  of the clams as Johore’s Natural Heritage, its uniqueness as a world record holder and the tourism potential of the animals both institutions worked together to save the giant clams in Johore.

           The results is the Giant Clam Project which started in 1997. The success of the Project culminates in the artificial breeding of the giant clams whose babies we see today. In 1999 we will see the release of 600 babies of giant clams into a nursery area at marine  park of Pulau Tinggi, Johore Darul Ta’zim.

 

(c) Copyright-2001 Muka Head Research Station