Shell trade pushes giant clams to the brink

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Science  22 Jan 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6271, pp. 323-324
DOI: 10.1126/science.351.6271.323

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As countries crack down on the trade of elephant tusks, constricting illegal ivory exports to China, shells of giant clams—the "jade of the sea"—have become the new rage in scrimshaw. And that is taking a heavy toll on the mollusks, which can span a meter and play a key role in reef ecosystems. The main species targeted—Tridacna gigas—is considered vulnerable to extinction based on survey data from 20 years ago, and its status has eroded considerably since then. To feed the booming industry, fishers are pillaging the South China Sea for the creatures. That's adding to the tension in the region, which is already a geopolitical flashpoint because of China's expansive territorial claims.

  • * in Tanmen, China