Saturday, July 3, 2010


On the side of the road on I-75 in Michigan there is a sign that says "Man Killing Giant Clam" Sea Shell City - Over 500 lbs with a drawing of the Giant Clam.

While this looks like something out of a Hollywood horror film, it is a real (although now long-dead) Giant Claim.   This beasty is the main attraction at Sea Shell City, which is a gift an novelty shop off of I 75 in Cheboygan, MI that has been in business since 1957.  It is real giant clam that weighs 505 lb and was purchased from the Philippines.
A quote from Roadside America by the owner explains the sign:
"The owner tells us that she did not name it; it was called that by the Filipinos who sold it. She also points out that it's a "man killer" clam, not a "man eating" clam. "The clam doesn't eat men. It closes on their feet and then they drown." Thus Sea Shell City is not guilty of sensationalism. It is simply telling the truth."
Even Wikipedia talks of the legends that surround the species:
"It was known in times past as the killer clam or man-eating clam, and reputable scientific and technical manuals once claimed that the great mollusk had caused deaths; versions of the U.S. Navy Diving Manual even gave detailed instructions for releasing oneself from its grasp by severing the adductor muscles used to close its shell.
In a colorful account[23] of the discovery of the Pearl of Lao Tzu, Wilburn Cobb said he was told that a Dyak diver was drowned when the Tridacna closed its shell on his arm."
While touted as "man killing" the likelihood of this one ever actually killing anyone is pretty slim.  The University of Michigan's Museum of Zoology website, Animal Diversity Web indicates:
"Despite their classic movie depictions as "killer clams," there are no authentic cases of people being trapped and drowned by giant clams. Tridacnids are actually quite lethargic and slow about closing. Tridacnid-associated injuries are quite common however. They typically involve hernias, back injuries, and smashed toes induced when people lift adult clams out of the water.

Sea Shell City's Website
Map location
All photos by Kathryn Sprowl

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