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National Museum of Australia

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Giant clam shell

Object information

Physical description

A light coloured large Giant Clam shell separated into two halves. The inside of both shells are smooth and the outside is rough. The outside edge of both shells are fragile.

Statement of significance

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority Collection comprises three giant clam shells seized from boats fishing illegally in Australian waters. The larger clams are estimated to be over 100-years-old, first settling on Evans Shoal before the First World War. They are among hundreds of giant clams killed between November 2013 and March 2014 by fishermen travelling to Australia specifically targeting these rare animals.

The giant clam, Tridacna gigas, is the largest bivalve mollusc and is one of the most endangered clam species. One of a number of large clam species native to the shallow coral reefs of the South Pacific and Indian oceans, giant clams are becoming endangered due to intensive exploitation by bivalve fishing vessels. Clam flesh has been important sources of food for coastal dwelling people in Australia for thousands of years, and has also been used in artwork and for personal decoration. Aboriginal shell middens, reveal that over 100 species of shellfish, from giant clams to pippis, have been harvested in north Queensland. Early European explorers are also likley to have used this species of clam as a food source.

Object information

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