Fragile File Clam

Fragile File Clam40″x48″

Fragile File Clam
Limaria sp. aff. fragilis


French Frigate Shoals, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands

Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument

NOAA Vessel Oscar Sette, shipboard studio

Archival Pigment Print

Bivalves are a group of mollusks that are, for the most part, a withdrawn lot, hiding between two thick, protective shells that they clamp shut at the slightest disturbance. The file clam, however, takes a different tack: It’s boldly out there, loudly proclaiming its presence with long, vermillion tentacles. In fact, the shell is too small to contain the animal and too thin to protect it. When disturbed, the clam instead relocates by clapping its light shells together, thereby jet-propelling itself away from danger. And if a potential predator has already come in contact with some of its sticky tentacles, it simply leaves those ones behind.