Those Giant Clams-did they REALLY Drown pearl Divers?

I remember seeing an old movie-and it featured a pearl diver who put his hand inside a giant clam. the shell snapped shut, and the diver was stuck-he drowned, because he could not free himself. has this actually happened? and, are giant clams good to eat? I imagine one would be enough for several large portions of fried clams!

According to Wiki:

Today, it is generally acknowledged that the giant clam is neither aggressive nor particularly dangerous. While it is certainly capable of holding one fast in its grip, the shell’s closing action is actually a defensive response, and too slow to pose a serious threat.

Related is the sport of noodling for catfish in the South. Most noodlers don’t drown despite diving underwater and sticking their hands into the mouths of very large catfish in murky water:

"Flathead catfish live in holes or under brush in rivers and lakes and thus are easy to capture due to the static nature of their dwelling. To begin, a noodler goes underwater to depths ranging from only a few feet to up to twenty feet, placing his hand inside a discovered catfish hole. If all goes as planned, the catfish will swim forward and latch onto the fisherman’s hand, usually as a defensive maneuver in order to try to escape the hole. If the fish is particularly large, the noodler can hook the head around its gills.

Most noodlers have spotters who help them bring the catfish in, either to shore or to their boat. When a catfish bites onto a noodler, it holds on for quite a while."

Having dived extensively with giant clams (Tridacna sp.), I can assure you of several things.

  1. They close very, very slowly. You’d have to be an idiot to get caught, it’s not snapping like a bear trap.

  2. Even when fully closed, you could remove your hand, as they don’t close entirely tight.

They are quite beautiful in the ocean. Many places, they have been way overharvested, 'cause they are good to eat.

So it goes …


My dad’s copy of Sea and Land. An Illustrated History of the Wonderful and Curious Things of Nature Existing before and since the Deluge. Embodying Descriptions of the Mighty World of Waters, and of the Marvelous Creatures which Comprise its Inhabitants. (1887) contains an engraving of a Japanese pearl diver caught by just such a large clam. Since every word in that book is true, it must have happened at least once. :wink:

But not your foot, right? Like, if you were busy fighting baddies and didn’t notice the inexorable closing of the clam? Cause otherwise, Willard Price *lied *to me! :frowning:

ETA - sorry, this reply was more appropriate for Cafe Society.

Have there been any recorded instances of death by clam?

Well, yes, as Maggenpye says feet might be difficult, although the gap is fairly wide, you might even be able to get your foot out of the clam’s mouth … but the problem is, all too often I find it hard to get my foot out of my own mouth :smack: :smack: …


Are you absolutely sure you want to phrase the question this way?

Moderator’s Note: I’m not really seeing a debate here, so I’m moving this from GD to GQ.

I am not seeing the double meaning, *bearded *clams are not in the OP. *Giant *clams don’t (oh please, say ‘no’) have the same connotations, do they?

But why would a pearl diver put his foot into a clam’s mouth to begin with? It seems to me the only parts he’d stick inside are his arms, and possibly his head.

Because he was fighting the baddies! Mind you, I don’t claim to know why Willard Price wrote anything. I’m just kind of glad he never based anything in New Zealand.
It may be in my best interests to clam up at this point.
Happy New Year.

Thanks for asking this. I had always assumed that giant clams were a hollywood prop - or a legend. A quick Google shows several wonderful pictures of them.

I thought we had a doper who had experienced this while on a scuba dive and had indeed become stuck - I can’t remember the rest of the anecdote, but obviously the teller survived somehow.

Paging jjimm - was it you?

No, it wasn’t me.

I may have banged on about the [del]idiot[/del] friend-of-a-friend who got his thumb bitten off by a moray eel while feeding it sausages. Captured on video [warning: slightly graphic, and definitely gross].