Electric Clams

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Hairy and bright, electric clams are just flashy!

The marine world is indeed filled with wonders, and this electric clam is just one of them.  Ctenoides Ales (scientific name) is a specie of saltwater clam, a marine bivalve mollusk in the family of Limidae. It is known by the names of electric flame scallop, disco scallop, electric clam and disco clam. The only bivalve known to have light displays, its soft tissues flashes light like a disco ball!

This clam normally situate itself on overhangs or crevices obviously for protection, secondly, the lighting effect is more visible in the dark.  Recently, we sighted the critter while diving in Cabilao Island, Bohol.  Our last encounter few years back was in Pescador Island, Moalboal.  So far, these are the sites where I found this rare flashy clams.

According to research, the explanation of this flashing light comes from reflection of the ambient light – the clam have a highly reflective tissue on the very outer edge of their mantle exposed and then hidden very quickly, so the change back and forth from the white reflective tissue to the red tissue creates the appearance of flashing.


Disco Clam!

The clam was flashing red lights!
The clam was flashing red lights!

Ctenoides ales, known to scuba divers as the “electric clam” or “disco clam”, is a species of saltwater clam, a marine bivalve mollusk in the family Limidae, the file clams. The clam has been given these nicknames because its soft tissues flash light like a disco ball.

Studies revealed that it is not a bioluminescence phenomenon, but is instead coming from reflection of the ambient light, either the sun or diving light.  It was my second sighting when we dive  in Moalboal last June,  a rare specie I didn’t encounter them in any other dive sites we visited so far.