Providing management & consulting services to the marine, diving and tourism industries since 2003.

Meet the Electric Flame Scallop, the Clam That Shoots Lightning Bolts

There’s only one sea animal you want at the disco. It’s the electric flame scallop, also known as the disco clam, and it’s more fun than any of us could ever hope to be.

For years, the creature was putting on light displays for everyone who bothered to look.

Disco Clams Light Up the Ocean Floor

Disco clams get their name from the rippling light show on their mirrored lips, visible even in the dim blue depths. UC Berkeley graduate student, Lindsey Dougherty, has been studying the clams for four years.


Water You Waiting For?

Sign up for Azula’s newsletter to bring the latest ocean news and crazy-cute animal videos straight to your inbox.

And everyone believed that it was some kind of electric phenomenon that made the clam give off the shock that it did.

Disco GIF – Find & Share on GIPHY

Discover & Share this Disco GIF with everyone you know. GIPHY is how you search, share, discover, and create GIFs.

As it turned out, though, they were wrong, and it took the intense research of a graduate student to unveil the secret. The student researcher, Lindsey Dougherty, tried to show the world that it wasn’t an otherworldly bioluminescent effect that made the clam act the way it did. She first vowed to show the world what was up with the animal when she was diving with her sister in Indonesia.

Years later, and deep into her Ph.D studies, she seems to have found an answer. It’s not unusual to think the creature had an electric response to predators. Such defense has fared well for other animals.

But Dougherty was right: The electric flame scallop wasn’t emitting an electric light show. It was simply, well … light.

Electric Disco Clams Exist-Watch Them Light Up This Coral Reef | National Geographic

Ctenoides ales, also known as the “electric disco clam,” is lighting up tropical waters with its resemblance to a flashing neon light. Watch: Glowing Bug Attracts and Devours Prey https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXzOO1tbnmY ➡ Subscribe: http://bit.ly/NatGeoSubscribe About National Geographic: National Geographic is the world’s premium destination for science, exploration, and adventure.

The truth was, the clam’s outer shell contained a highly reflective tissue. And not only was that tissue super susceptive to ambient light; it also disappeared to the naked eye quite quickly.

Part of Dougherty’s findings included the color of the water surrounding the clam.

The blue-green waters helped its actions show up more clearly than if the nearby water had been, say, brown.

Nature Is Weird on Twitter

The electric flame scallop (Ctenoides ales) shoots lightning bolts! (Video via @allfiveoceans) https://t.co/ETPUib5Ch3

That’s what made the electric effect so persistent: the color of the surrounding water and the color of the inside lip of the clam. All those colors made the reflecting light appear as a quick flash of electricity as opposed to the more, rather boring flash of regular light that it was.

For Dougherty, it was a rare formula. The hypothesis of an experiment? Electric. The findings? Regular.



© #Flipboard #TheOceanRoamer

Rate this blog entry:
Rising temperatures are cooking baby sea turtles i...
Social Media Group Spawns Ocean Conservation Album


15 March 2017
I can just see Cousteau the father of diving turning in the grave. After the disastrous management of the Calypso by the late captain's last wife, now the last bastion of Cousteau's legacy Aqualung ha...
10546 Hits
23 February 2017
After the 20th shark attack off Reunion Island since 2011 occurred earlier this week, the world’s greatest surfer made a comment that “there needs to be a serious cull on Reunion and it should happen...
5802 Hits
23 May 2017
A Red Sea diving liveaboard had to be evacuated on Saturday, 13 May after what appeared to be a galley fire broke out. According to one of the 23 guests, who were left with few possessions between th...
3123 Hits
19 May 2017
PADI CEO Releases Statement on New Owners Story brought to you by DIVEMAGAZINE The Professional Association of Dive Instructors (PADI) was sold in March this year to a private consortium known only a...
2344 Hits
19 May 2017
We take a look at the best diving movies of all time, from thrilling underwater epics to Hollywood blockbusters featuring incredible subaquatic scenes. The underwater realm struggles t...
2094 Hits
12 April 2017
March 15, 2017 at 9:19 PM Researchers have created a new model for predicting decompression sickness after deep-sea dives that not only estimates the risk, but how severe the symptoms are likely to b...
1810 Hits