The Devil Clam is one of the most elusive and poorly known species of giant clams, mostly because of its limited natural distribution and its preference for deeper waters. Unlike most species of Tridacna and Hippopus which live in relatively shallow water, Tridacna mbalavuana is restricted to deeper waters, making sightings by scuba divers even more rare.
Also known as Tridacna mbalavuana, the Devil Clam has one of the smallest natural ranges of any living species of giant clams, known only from Tonga with a few specimens occasionally being sighted in Fiji. However a new paper in Marine Biodiversity reports on the discovery on two individuals way over in New Caledonia.
The two new far flung specimens of Devil Clam were found on the northeastern barrier reefs of New Caledonia, at a distance of 1,352km or 840 miles from Fiji. The two specimens were both sighted at a depth of about 20 meters or 65 feet and despite additional surveys around these two specimens, no further individuals of T. mbalavuana have been seen.
With the discovery of Devil Clams in New Caledonia this species gets a massive range extension which also overlaps with Vanuatu, and perhaps specimens will be discovered living there in the future as well. Despite this new finding, sightings of the Devil Clam in its natural habitat remain extremely rare and hopefully this clam’s preference for deeper water is the main reason for the infrequent human encounters.