I’ve heard of giant clams. I’ve even seen the odd one here and there. One’s been turned into a lampshade at the Coastwatchers Hotel here in Madang. An eerie orange glow shines between the ridged teeth of its two-foot clamp. Once or twice I’ve come across them underwater. Usually they’re closed, a thin line of dark showing between the partitioned slabs of shell where the organism itself lurks. This one here shows where one such mollusc has departed its home on the Great Barrier Reef, whether it’s headed for an upsized plot somewhere in the aquatic suburbs, or has shuffled off this mortal shell altogether.
But when they’re alive, inside they’re so colourful! I had never realised until last week just how psychadelically vibrant they are. Pulsing with colour, the big one below was pushing three feet long, tentatively easing open and shut as my perceived threat waxed and waned. I was in awe of the electric blue streaks that are dashed over its innards and the rime of pulsating green around the border of the shell. The inset shows a close-up of another specimen, this one allowing me to get a little nearer and even catch a flash of its gullet, winding down into the guts of the shellfish. Not something you’d want to see as a small fish. I think it’s amazing how the plainest, most ordinary-looking creatures from the outside can have the most pointlessly outrageous decorations on the inside.