The world's first Tridacna Gigantea pearl found?
by Volker Bassen
(Diani beach, Kenya)
The world's biggest Tridacna Gigantea clam (612kg!)
I came to Kenya in 1990 and started collecting fossil Tridacna Gigantea (giant clams) in 1995.
Tridacna Gigantea is a diffrent clam compared to Tridacna Gigas. First of all; Tridacna Gigantea doesn't exist live in the wild because they became extinct around 180.000 years ago as sea levels suddenly rised about 20 meters (God doesn't make them anymore) so suddenly they didn't get enough sunlight (which they need as they live in symbiosis with an algae that produces sugar for the clam to feed on) so they basically starved to death. Secondly, they became much bigger than today's Tridacna Gigas, the biggest one in my collection has a staggering weight of 612 kg! (See photo) I also have a single clamshell which weighs 211kg cleaned and polished. The biggest Tridacna Gigas ever found only weighs about half that. Thirdly; they are much rarer than Gigas clams as they are only occasionally found, very deeply embedded in ancient limestone quarries, about 4-5 meters deep (the deeper, the bigger the clam, see photo)
Over the years I collected quite a few, my dream was to one day find a pearl in one of them.
I set up a workshop in Kenya where I live and we started polishing and selling these amazing clams through different outlets such as Bonhams and other high-end outlets. In Europe and the US they are often used as luxury washbasins (see photo) Yesterday my dream came through as we finally found a pearl stuck to the wall of a "monster" clam, one of the biggest I've ever recieved during my 20 years of collecting these giants.
As far as I know it's the only Tridacna Gigantea pearl ever found. I actually found 2 as they apparently grew next to each other! (See photo) I know that some of the pearls found in Gigas clams are hollow but not these ones, they are quite heavy. So now the big question; does anyone know of any other pearl ever found in one of these Gigantea clams?