Journal Article

The remarkable population size of the endangered clam <i>Tridacna maxima</i> assessed in Fangatau Atoll (Eastern Tuamotu, French Polynesia) using <i>in situ</i> and remote sensing data

Serge Andréfouët, Antoine Gilbert, Laurent Yan, Georges Remoissenet, Claude Payri and Yannick Chancerelle

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 62, issue 6, pages 1037-1048
Published in print January 2005 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2005 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI:
The remarkable population size of the endangered clam Tridacna maxima assessed in Fangatau Atoll (Eastern Tuamotu, French Polynesia) using in situ and remote sensing data

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  • Marine and Estuarine Biology


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Several lagoons of the Eastern Tuamotu Atolls (French Polynesia) are characterized by enormous populations of the clam Tridacna maxima, a species considered as endangered in many locations worldwide. This unique resource is virtually intact, until recently being impacted only by local consumption. Increasing exports to Tahiti's market (up to 50 tonnes of wet matter y−1), combined with the relatively small size of these lagoons (<50 km2), have raised significant concerns for agencies charged with management of lagoonal resources. In order to evaluate whether the current harvesting pressure threatens long-term sustainability of this resource, it is necessary to estimate the total number of individual clams present and also the fraction of that stock that is currently targeted by fishers, who generally collect clams in very shallow waters (<1 m), walking on the reef edges. Here, we present results for a pilot study evaluating this resource at Fangatau Atoll. Using a combination of data collected in situ and three remotely sensed images with different spatial resolution (1.5, 5.6, and 30 m), we estimate that the shallowest lagoonal areas (4.05 km2 at depth <6 m) harbour five classes of benthic habitat with significantly different clam areal covers and densities. Considering the cover/density values for each habitat class, 23.65 ± 5.33 million clams (mean ± 95% confidence interval) inhabit these 4.05 km2. Assuming that current harvesting techniques will be maintained in the future, the commercially available stock represents 44% of the population located on 1.18 km2 of the shallow lagoon. A comparison of results from the three remote sensing platforms indicates that high resolution, broadband multispectral sensors (e.g. IKONOS, Quickbird) should provide the best existing platforms to conduct similar assessments elsewhere.

Keywords: aerial photographs; astronaut photographs; coral reef; fishery; French Polynesia; giant clam; Landsat; marine resource management; remote sensing

Journal Article.  6167 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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