Research Article

Searching the Virtually Extinct Tridacna gigas (Linnaeus, 1758) in the Reefs of Palawan, Philippines

Niño Jess Mar F. Mecha* and Roger G. Dolorosa


Tridacna gigas (Cardiidae: Tridacninae) is the largest extant reef-associated bivalves that occur abundantly in the Indo-West Pacific Region. However, unregulated exploitation had caused localized extinction in many parts of its distribution range. In Palawan, the species was considered virtually extinct in the 1980s, and since then, no study has been done to monitor their status in the wild. In the absence of updated studies about T. gigas, we gathered information through field reports, key informants, and field visits. Within five months of data gathering, we recorded 97 empty shells (14 in pairs and 83 single shells) with 65.86 cm (range: 42-112 cm) average shell length, which were estimated to be from 5 to >76 years old. Most (78.36%) of the empty shells were used for decoration and landscaping. On the other hand, 29 live individuals with 73.69 cm (range: 42-109 cm) average shell length were estimated to be 5 to >76 years old. Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park and some island resorts harbored the highest number of live T. gigas. The presence of live T. gigas in these areas reflects years of effective management and the resorts’ essential contribution to resource conservation. These remaining live individuals could be used in breeding and restocking programs to restore their lost populations.

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Keywords: bivalves, conservation, giant clams, macroinvertebrates, mollusks

*Corresponding Author:

College of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Western Philippines University-Puerto Princesa Campus,
Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, Philippines