Restocking Giant Clams at Apo Island

Marine Biology Field Trip: Restocking Giant Clams at Apo Island



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In April I visited the Apo Island Marine Sanctuary with some scientists from the Silliman University Marine Lab where I work, to help re-stock giant clams there. The lab has several large saltwater tanks that are used to breed the endangered clams in captivity and then release them back into the wild for communities that request to have clams in their marine sanctuaries.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    Jay (on left) is one of the giant clam experts at the Marine Lab, in this photo she is tagging the clams that will be re-stocked in the Apo Island Marine Sanctuary.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    These giant clams aren't fully grown, though when they are released into the wild they typically grow much faster than they do in captivity--up to 10 cm per year.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    Here's a batch of sequentially numbered clams with the SUML tags on them. Sort of like the preferred currency of The Flintstones.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    The new home of this batch of giant clams was to be the Apo Island Marine Sanctuary.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    These tomato clown fish probably didn't know they were about to get some new neighbors.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    Here's a few more clown fish from the Apo sanctuary.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    You can tell the Apo sanctuary is in good shape by the number and diversity of fish species that live there.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    The smallest fish really depend on the branching corals for safety and cover from predators.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    Analie Candido, an Apo Island native who studies at the Silliman Marine Lab is shown here laying out the transect for a coral survey of the sanctuary.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    Marine Lab staff make regular measurements of the progress of the recovery at the Apo sanctuary as a part of their ongoing studies of the health of the reefs here.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    Skunk anemone fish like this one are usually pretty good photo subjects.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    Here's another shot of the underwater skunk.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    Analie carried an underwater slate board to write on and record the measurements of the corals there.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    Renclar, another grad student at SUML used his knife to cut back some of the prolific soft corals that had encroached on the protective cages that house the growing giant clams. The cages are in place to protect the clams from predators until they are large enough to survive reliably in the open reef.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    Inside the cage, small fish and nudibranches hung out with the clams.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    You can almost imagine one of those clams eating the yellow fish, but clams just strain plankton out of the water for food; they aren't particularly carnivorous.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    This little guy blended in quite well with the white sand of the sanctuary floor.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    Here's another shot of Renclar's knife intervening to clear out the cages so the giant clams will have better inflow of fresh seawater.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    Here's a barracuda-eye view of Renclar and the giant clam cages on the bottom of the Apo marine sanctuary.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    Damselfish are really common in the Apo sanctuary.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    Especially around branching corals like these.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    I found this white-eyed moray eel near the edge of the dropoff in Apo's sanctuary.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    This shot caught my eye because I thought it was cool to see how each species had it's own space, with a small buffer just to keep the neighbors on friendly terms.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    Fishy eyes peer out of almost every hiding spot among the corals.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    Sometimes the close up surface of corals like these seem like a cratered lunar landscape.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    Here's another close up of the corals.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    The variety of species and colors sometimes is too much to take in at once.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    These sea fans filter the water for food.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    Another close up of some branching corals in the sanctuary.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    This tiny clown fish really blended in well with the bright orange anemone that it lives inside of.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    I haven't seen as many of these orange anemones, but they really are pretty photogenic.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    For some reason this school was swimming higher up in the water column.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    These tiny catfish can sometimes be found in swarming schools, usually close to the bottom because they scour for detritus. Be careful of them though because they are apparently poisonous.

  • Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005

    Apo Island Giant Clam Re-Stocking - April 2005
    After a day of stocking giant clams and visiting the Apo Marine sanctuary it was time to head back to Dumaguete.