The mass death of clams that occurred in Pyarpinlahar creek and its vicinity in Tapyuchaing island, Kyaukmyaung village-tract, An Township, Kyaukpyu District, is not due to polluted water and the species of clam in question could have died due to excess freshwater from rain, conclusion of its natural lifespan, or because of climate change, said U Oo Tun Thein, Deputy Director-General of the Kyaukpyu District Fishing Department.
“An article was uploaded on social media on 22 September showing clams dying. This worried people and they shared the article around,” said U Oo Tun Thein. He continued, saying, “When the district departments went to inspect Tapyuchaing island on 24 September we found that the images of the dead clams uploaded on social media was not the same with the dead clams here. The dead clams here are a species that only grow up to one-two centimeters. It’s also entirely untrue that the clams died due to water pollution. These clams naturally live in seawater, so they could have died from the excess freshwater from the rain. They could also have died from reaching the end of their natural lifespan or because of the overbearingly hot weather. If it were true that they died due to water pollution, then the giant clams, snails and fish in the area would have died too. But we saw that the giant clams, snails and fish were continuing to live normally. The local fishing people were fishing normally in the area too. It’s a common occurrence for these tiny clams to die off like this. People became worried after this was posted on social media, and they misconstrued the situation. There is nothing worry here.”
The original photo of the dead clams was uploaded onto social media by a local resident. The article spread quickly and raised some concerns. U Ye Myat Thein, the Township Administrator from Kyaukpyu Township General Administration Department, said the area where the incident occurred does not have any human settlements and very few human visits. He also said local fishers gather clams and hunt crabs, prawns and fish. He said the tiny clams can usually be seen on the sand flat when the tide falls. He said the sand flat measures about 150 feet on all sides and there are usually dead clams stuck in the mud. He said these particular clams are not the ones normally consumed by humans, but rather used in chicken feed. He added that their deaths are a natural phenomenon and not instigated. “These clams did not die at the time we received the news. The Fishing Department suspects that since there was excessive rain in the past month, it could have led to excess freshwater entering the area and thus killing off the clams that were not resilient to freshwater,” said U Ye Myat Thein. “We can also conclude they had reached the end of their life circle. It was not due to any instigation because other species of clam and other marine animals are still alive in the area. The local residents also said there was no peculiar activity. The calm collectors say they find dead clams and live ones too. They said say the dead clams could have died from getting into contact with freshwater. They also said they did not see large number of dead clams collectively in a single area. He said not every villager go to that area as it takes a one-and-a-half hour by boat to get there. Only expert fishers go there.” U Ye Myat Thein said this event cannot be concluded based solely on speculation. He said similar incidents could have occurred before, and it could have gone unnoticed since the area is seldom visited by humans. He said a precise answer should be researched by experts but also added that no peculiar activity relating to this occurred in the Kyaukpyu District. He said there was no devastating damage to the natural environment nor mass public concern, and that the life of local people was carrying on as normal.