Puerto Princesa, Palawan — The first ever in-situ spawning of the Palawan native species of the biggest giant clam, Tridacna gigas, was commenced by Malampaya Foundation (MFI) and partners to help increase its declining population, Saturday, at WPU Hatchery in Binduyan, Puerto Princesa City.

University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute (UPMSI), forerunner of giant clam conservation in the Philippines, supervised the spawning activity where about 9.5 million eggs were fertilized from native giant clams located at Dos Palmas.

Dr. Lota A. Creencia of Western Philippine University (WPU) College of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences said, “Tridacna gigas is hard to propagate because the population is few. We need to really go to the brood stock [source] to collect eggs and sperms, compared to other species of clams which numbers can still afford to be brought into laboratories.”

Once sufficiently matured, the native Tridacna gigas will be deployed to MFI’s marine protected areas in the north of Palawan.

Sherry Lyn Sayco, researcher at UPMSI, said, “Important yung giant clams dahil marami silang ecological significance, habitat and food for some of the marine animals. It also benefits people because it helps increase fish density.”

Meanwhile, the Tridacna gigas, with a known .01% survival rate, is one of the most endangered clam species and was even declared extinct in the Philippines in the 1980s. In order to bring it back, UPMSI, under the leadership of national scientist Dr. Edgardo Gomez, took specimens coming from the Pacific Islands and grew it in the country.

Surprisingly, it was found that the Philippine-native species of the Tridacna gigas still exists in Palawan. Dr. Gomez himself confirmed this during his visit at the spawning site in Dos Palmas.

Dr. Lota A. Creencia of Western Philippine University said there are reports that prove the giant clams found in Palawan are native, “Kasi ang sizes na nandito sa Honda Bay ay really bigger [compared to the ones spawned from Pacific Islands], pero para maconfirm lang ay magcoconduct ng molecular study.”

The spawning activity was in line with MFI’s “String-of-Pearls of Project” that has begun last year, successfully multiplying two other species of giant clam namely Tridacna squamosa and Hippopus hippopus, which will be deployed to effectively-managed marine protected areas (MPAs) in North Palawan communities. MFI has been partnering with communities, local governments and agencies in Palawan, Oriental Mindoro and Batangas to establish, expand and set-up proper management and protection mechanisms for MPAs since 2013.

MFI’s String of Pearls Project is also in partnership with Palawan States University, Western Philippine University, Palawan Council for Sustainable Development, and Dos Palmas Resort & Spa.