Student has fun exploring disco clam’s underwater world

Lindsey Dougherty’s love of the sea eventually led her to UC Berkeley, where she is now a graduate student focusing on one of the ocean’s more unusual critters: a clam that flashes in the deep.

Lindsey Dougherty. Click to link to video.

Lindsey Dougherty, a graduate student studying the unusual and comical ‘disco clam.” Click on image to link to Discovery Canada video.

This behavior earned it the nickname ‘disco clam,’ and Dougherty is working with UC Berkeley’s Roy Caldwell, professor of integrative biology, to explore how and why it flashes its mirrored lips.

In fact, she has created LED-equipped ‘roboclams’ to find out if the flashing is a form of communication.

“They are sort of nature’s anomaly,” Dougherty recently told a reporter for Discovery Canada. “They’re a small clam, they’re bright red and they flash all day long. … We don’t know much about them at all, so every shell I uncover, it seems like I am researching something new.”

In her interview with the science program “Daily Planet,” Dougherty talked about her love of the ocean and her first encounter with these unusual mollusks.