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Tokoriki receives 70 juvenile Giant Clams

Thursday May 7, 2009

Our Giant Clam Regeneration Project began back in 2000. The aim was to create a breeding colony of tridacna gigas — the true Giant Clam — which can live for 80 years, measure 1.5m long, and weigh 150kg. This species became extinct in Fiji in the 1950’s due to over fishing.

Initially we placed 100 baby clams in protective cages on our “Magic Mushrooms” dive site. The clams came from the Fisheries Breeding Centre at Makogai Island.

Subsequently other attempts have been made by Resorts and Villages to start similar programs, but all have been unsuccessful, with the clams being lost, forgotten or eaten!

Cyclones, storms and natural predation have whittled our clams from 100 down to 40, but they have grown from approximately 7cm to nearly 70cm in length. They have now reached sexual maturity, and (although it is impossible to tell as yet) should have spawned over the last two years.

Due to failures of all other attempts at Giant Clam regeneration, the Fisheries Department were very close to canceling their breeding program. Shocked by this thought we convinced them to bring us some more clams and to revisit our Tokoriki clams 9 years on.

After helping Senior Fisheries Officer Babitu Rawara to plant our new batch of 70 juvenile clams, we took him on a tour of Magic Mushrooms to see the mature tridacna gigas. He was astonished at their health and size. He told us that he had been briefed to come back with proof that all of Fisheries’ efforts in breeding and transporting the clams were worthwhile—otherwise no more clams would be “wasted” on ecotourism projects.

The day he returned to Suva, Babitu gave a presentation, with underwater photos, to Head of Fisheries, Aisake Batibasaga, (who helped us plant the first clams in 2000).

He was so impressed by the Tokoriki Project’s Giant Clams, that Fisheries have decided to work exclusively with the Tokoriki Island Resort Giant Clam Regeneration Project.

To this end they are planning to send more clams to increase stock levels, and also want us to start a colony of Trochus (top) shells—a large mollusc which is very important to the general health of the reef, being an algae eater, but is also of economic importance to local villagers.

The Tokoriki Island Resort Giant Clam Regeneration Project conceived by Will and Alex back in 2000 is an example of a small scale project that can have a long term impact in the health of our reefs.

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