Mystery Pic

by wjw on June 17, 2009

I was looking through the photo archives yesterday and found this.
Which brings us to today’s puzzler. A genuine no-prize to the first person who tells me what this is.
And— just for the record— “a leftover piece of Sixties psychedelia” is not the correct answer.
Chris June 17, 2009 at 8:59 pm

Tridacna gigas – Giant Clam?

Anonymous June 17, 2009 at 9:15 pm

Looks like a giant clam to me as well. But it's got a lot of little friends clinging to its shell.


Ken Houghton June 17, 2009 at 10:00 pm

I'm with everyone else. Judging by the area around it, I would assume a diving expedition: Cozumel? Australia?

aprice2704 June 17, 2009 at 11:54 pm

Yep, clam seen edge on was my first reaction too.

Lance Larka June 18, 2009 at 1:29 am

Sea Cucumber?

docrivs June 18, 2009 at 2:38 am

i was thinking an octopus, peeking out of a giant clam shell — maybe it got swallowed, or maybe it's hiding in there in some kind of weird-symbiotic thing…

dubjay June 18, 2009 at 4:13 am

It is indeed a giant clam, about a yard across. The thing that looks like the head of an octopus is the clam's siphon, withdrawn in this case because the clam was beginning to sense my arrival.

I saw a lot of these in Palau, and found them colorful, all different shades of psychedelia, but very shy. It was hard to get a picture of one, because they'd close up very quickly.

I remember reading a book in childhood with a memorable scene: the villain lures one of the good guys to an area with a giant clam, which promptly closes around his foot. The tide is coming in and rescue is not in sight. In order to save himself, the victim tries to saw through his ankle with a knife, but fails and drowns.

I was somewhat disappointed to learn how shy these critters are— and also how impossible it is to catch a foot in them. They're filter feeders, not some underwater version of venus flytrap: if you managed by some miracle to catch a foot, they'd open up and spit it out. And they also never seem to close all the way: if they clamped down, you could easily wriggle free.

Another childhood memory spoiled, I guess.

Rebecca S. June 18, 2009 at 5:47 am

There is an attempted murder by giant clam in John W. Vandercook's Murder in Fiji (1936). The narrator exclaims, "One thing and one thing only can break a giant tridacna's grip." (A crowbar, as it happens.) Never did I imagine that this was not true. Another illustion shattered.

Ralf the Dog June 18, 2009 at 4:18 pm

RE: spoiled childhood memories.

The killer giant clams are a mutant variety. They are much smarter than the more passive giant clams. Villains train them to eat good guys. If you see a villain where you swim, watch out for the mutant giant clams.

Anonymous June 21, 2009 at 8:17 pm

It must be remembered that the "killer" variety are invariably found with pearls the size of bowling balls, or, more often, pearlescent bowling balls.

In fact, there was a huge spike in the killer giant clam population when the container ship Dick Weber, out of Brunswick, went down in the South Pacific in 1984, spreading its cargo of Dyno-Thane and Viz-A-Balls across the ocean floor.

Yep, '84 was a great year for supervillians with undersea lairs.

Deborah Roggie June 28, 2009 at 2:42 pm

Found this article on "The Pearl of Allah" on the Natural History Magazine website (via Boing Boing):

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