Three years ago, the Mercury News reported a strange sight on California beach as thousands of tiny clams suddenly covered the once sandy beach of Newport Pier. Though it was a beautiful sight, residents are baffled by its sudden emergence on the beach.
According to Newport Beach lifeguard Brent Jacobsen, this sight happens some years when heavy erosion sweeps away layers of sand on the beach, revealing these tiny clams. Ocean Institute marine biologist Julianne Steers also said that it is caused by a combination of factors that allow beachgoers to see the massive number of shells covering the coast.
Now, it seems like the same is happening to the beach of Boracay, the Philippines, as countless clams are spotted at its beachfront, leaving people mesmerized by its beauty. But what could possibly cause them to appear unexpectedly?
Clams Covering the Boracay Beachfront
ABS-CBN News reported on Monday a viral social media photo taken by Boracay resident Toti Arcibal Saluna on Sunday, showing numerous clams covering Boracay's beautiful white sand beach. The photo has taken the attention of social media users in the Philippines with over 4,600 shares and 3, 000 reactions.
Saluna thought that the clams looked beautiful and unique, which is agreed by many residents of the island and netizens that are amazed by the unusual sight.
According to Haron Deo Vargas, a marine biologist at the City Environment and Natural Resources Office of Boracay, this is the first time that countless seashells are seen scattered all over the beach. He thinks that there might be some people who are foraging scallops all over the place and have thrown its shells on the beach.
Vargas explained that many people hunt down scallops under the sea and could have thrown the shells, which was carried by the waves to the shores. Furthermore, he said that most of the shells could have reached their decomposition stage simultaneously, while the fish ate its soft part, leaving the shells empty.
According to Vargas, since they are beautiful and could be used as art crafts, many residents of the island also collect the shells. More so, collecting clams also prevent swimmers and beachgoers from getting hurt.
However, Vargas cautioned people not to eat the dead clams as it could already be contaminated, which can compromise a person's health.
A Colossal Waste of Potentially Useful Biomaterials
Mollusk shells are usually seen as nuisance waste discarded by the seafood industry each year. A vast majority of that seven million tons are either thrown to landfills or dumped at sea.
"Not only is this an expensive and ecologically harmful practice, it is a colossal waste of potentially useful biomaterials," said Dr. James Morris.
He proposed that the discarded shells can restore the damaged oyster reefs and cultivate the growth of new oysters. Since they are reused, it will not cost much and can have huge ecological advantages.
They are the epitome of a circular economy that improves the aquaculture industry's sustainability and provides secondary benefits to shellfish growers and processors, Morris added.