The Marine Ecology Research Centre (MERC) will release its first batch of 500 giant clam juveniles back to the sea soon. MERC’s project director, Alvin Wong, said during a press conference held at the Gayana Eco Resort yesterday that after three long years, they have finally come to the stage when they can release the juvenile clams, each measuring about three inches in length back to the wild. “It took us three years to get the clams to the three-inch size they are now at and hope they will be able to thrive in the wild,” he said. The monitoring of the clams after their release will be continued to assess how well they thrive. “If it doesn’t work, we will have to go back to the drawing block.” Wong disclosed that it is not easy task to propagate all the seven species of clams used to be found in the waters off the coast. “It is a journey never done before and we don’t know if we would be able to achieve our objectives, but today, we would like to celebrate the success of the first phase of our struggle,” he said. The first phase of the propagation programme involved producing giant clam ‘babies’ through spawning and tending them until they reached the stage when they can survive in an ocean nursery. He explained the difficulty of getting the giant clams to their current size, adding that the survival rate of fertility is a mere two to three per cent. MERC is unique in Malaysia to have spawned and produced giant clam spats of all seven species found in Malaysian waters. If the endeavour proves successful, Wong said that they would be releasing more giant clams into the wild. They currently have in stock a total of 2,000 ‘baby’ giant clams that would be released gradually, he said.