BRUNEI - Residents of the Belait District and people from as far as the capital yesterday flocked to Lumut beach, where clams have mysteriously turned up in great numbers on the shoreline.
The phenomenon has prompted the Fisheries Department to caution those who picked the shellfish from consuming it, pending investigation by the department.
People armed with nets, buckets and rice gunny bags started showing up at the beach as early as 5.30am to scour for the clams, according to a waiter working at a restaurant of the Liang Lumut Recreational Club (LLRC).
The clams were seen to be concentrated in a section of the beach directly in front of the LLRC.
When The Brunei Times visited the site after the Friday prayers, as many as 50 people - young and old - were seen on the beach and wading in the water scouring for the clams, while many others looked on and took pictures.
Messages on WhatsApp were circulated informing people of "free clams… and to bring a bucket", said Hj Alfian Hj Mohd Zain who brought employees from his catering business to join in the spectacle.
The messages also included pictures of the clams covering much of the beach sections before they were picked.
Hj Alfian likened the event to a similar phenomenon that took place in eastern Sabah recently, when mass amounts of fish were found ashore.
Twelve-year-old Syafiq Anak Jampang and his relatives were among those who descended onto the beach at noon and had half of their gunny rice bag filled with the clams. He said that they planned to cook and eat the clams.
A relative of Syafiq's said that the clams were "a blessing for the New Year, especially since it took place on a Friday".
The Fisheries Department had been informed of the "flooding" of a species of clam on Lumut beach, in what it described as an extraordinary event.
"Considering that the Fisheries Department is still investigating the cause of this morning's event, including (thorough) analysis of samples of the clams, the public is advised to not eat the clams of which its safety is not known," the authority said in a statement yesterday.
Acting Fisheries Director Abd Halidi Mohd Salleh in a message to the paper said clams were known to eat anything on the beach including toxic material, and could thereby pose a danger if consumed.