S'pore marine biologist calls out getai host Wang Lei for promoting products made from endangered giant clams

Giant clams are over-exploited for their shells.

Sumita Thiagarajan | November 18, 2020, 05:56 PM

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Getai host Wang Lei is now one of the most popular Facebook live-stream salespersons.

Wang gained fame for selling fish online and bantering with his viewers over these live streams.

By doing live streams, he now earns two to three times more money as compared to performing at getai shows.

Venturing beyond the sale of seafood, Wang has been engaged to sell other products online too.

On Nov. 10, Wang was spotted promoting the sale of pearl products made from giant clams.

Accessories made from giant clam promoted in Wang Lei's live-stream

At around one-hour mark in Wang's Facebook live video that evening, accessories made from pearls produced by endangered giant clams were featured.

The female promoter also claimed that such pearls take thousand of years to produce and therefore they are very precious.

She then further promoted the pearls as rare gems used for religious purposes such as for chanting and can help ward off evil spirits, bring wealth and reduce stress.

The range of pearl products was then sold online from S$120 to S$13,600.

screenshot of facebook live video with giant clam jewellery Screenshot via Wang Lei/Facebook

At the time of writing, the video has gained over 500,000 views.

Endangered species

A Singaporean marine biologist Neo Mei Lin was alerted to the incident and took to Facebook to highlight how Wang's Facebook live-stream would worsen the plight of this endangered species.

According to the scientist's blog, giant clams are the world’s largest living marine bivalves, and some can grow up to a metre long and weigh more than 250 kilograms.

Giant clams also play an important role in coral reef ecosystems by providing food and shelter to marine life, contributing calcium carbonate to marine environments, and by filtering the waters they live in.

Here are two examples of what the clams look like:

Photo of a burrowing giant clam (Tridacna crocea) via Neo Mei Lin/Facebook

Photo of a small giant clam (Tridacna maxima) via Neo Mei Lin/Facebook

Neo wrote to Wang in the comment section of that post and later on her Facebook to highlight the matter.

Marine scientist: Sale of giant clam products pushes them to extinction

According to the biologist who studies giant clams, the species is an internationally protected species, and faces endangerment due to over-exploitation for its shells and food.

In her post, she added that, under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), any form of products (alive or dead) related to these protected species cannot be exported out of the country, without proper permits.

She also appealed for Wang to not promote the sale of these endangered species, "as it will push them to the brink of extinction".

Neo also asked for the getai host to share about the plight of this endangered species with his audience to protect them from extinction.

According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, they are listed as "vulnerable".

The scientist also tagged the Singapore Customs and NParks in the comment she left on the video.

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Top screenshots via Wang Lei/FB