Holy clam! There's a lot of meat on the beach
Ecologists think they know why 11.5 million clams washed up on Robberg Beach in Plettenberg Bay in the Western Cape last week.
The dedicated marine team of Nature's Valley Trust, a non-profit organisation focusing on marine conservation and research in Plettenberg Bay and surrounding areas, said the washouts had become an annual event.
In a statement the marine team said: "The most plausible reason is that strong easterly swells and winds cause a large disturbance in the sand banks in which these clams usually reside.
"The turbulent water movement may prevent the clams from being able to burrow back and thus become subject to wave action and consequently wash out on to the beach.
"What we don't know is why there are so many clams in the area, and why these strong winds are now causing them to wash out."
The Marine Tourism Sustainability Project team and SANParks have quantified the clams (Mactra glabrata) through surveys which looked at the extent of the washout.
According to their calculations the recent washout extended to 5,875m² with the average number of clams in the deepest section (more than a metre deep) at 35,300m³.
The washout has left tons of protein on the beach and scavenger activity is expected.