The Giant Clams and Marine Invertebrate Hatchery is a unique establishment located in Bohey Dulang, one of the most visited islands in Sabah’s Tun Sakaran Marine Park.
The hatchery is the result of a collaboration between Malaysia’s Sabah Parks and the United Kingdom’s Marine Conservation Society; it was launched in 2006 under the auspices of the Semporna Islands Project.
Apart from snorkeling, diving and hiking to the top of Bohey Dulang Peak, most packages to Bohey Dulang include a visit to the hatchery.
About the hatchery
The hatchery is housed in a large wooden structure built on stilts over the sea near Bohey Dulang‘s main jetty.
- an exhibition hall;
- spawning tanks;
- broodstock gardens; and
- open sea cages.
The mini exhibition hall provides interesting information on giant clam spawning and seaweed farming.
Near the hall is a nursery, where visitors may find up to hundreds of baby giant clams living in settlement tanks.
Photos via sabahtourism.com
There are also impressive display tanks with live species of giant clams including the rare T.Gigas and T.Derasa.
Apart from giant clams, visitors may also find abalones and phytoplankton (giant clam food) being cultured.
Giant clams: Fast facts
Blessed with an amazing variety of marine life, Sabah’s waters are home to 7 of 9 species of giant clams found in the world. These include:
- Tridacna gigas (Giant Clam, ~140cm);
- Tridacna derasa (Southern Giant Clam, ~60cm);
- Tridacna squamosa (Fluted Giant Clam, ~40cm);
- Tridacna maxima (Maxima Clam, ~20cm);
- Tridacna crocea (Boring Clam, ~15cm);
- Hipoppus porcelanus (China Clam);
- Hipoppus hipoppus (Bear Paw Clam).
Giant clams, also known as the ‘kidneys of the ocean’, play an important role in the marine ecosystem.
They help to preserve and filter the waters by absorbing nitrates, ammonia and harmful organics that may harm the reef and its inhabitants.
All 9 species are listed under CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
Highly sought after, giant clams are threatened with extinction due to natural and human causes.
Most end up in seafood restaurants or are used in the ornamental fish trade (crafted into soap dishes, ash trays, lamp shades, etc).
Apart from excessive harvesting, climate change and pollution are also contributing factors to their rapid disappearance from the waters around Semporna.
The Giant Clams and Marine Invertebrate Hatchery in Bohey Dulang, the first of its kind under Sabah Parks, will continue to conduct research and cultivate giant clams with seeds supplied to the local community to help them reduce their over-reliance on natural marine resources.
There have also been plans for an underwater giant clam eco-trail as well as sustainable commercialization for trade purposes in the long term.