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WOODS HOLE, Mass. (CAP) - A study published today by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution claims that despite popular belief, almost all of the clams in the ocean are actually clinically depressed, with most falling into the range of suicidal.
"The phrase happy as a clam dates back to the 1600's, when fishermen and clammers first began working the waters off the New England coastline," said WHOI President Susan Avery. "These men took the clams' slightly upturned hingeline to be equivalent to a human smile, so they assumed that clams were just naturally happy.
"Now with the help of modern technology, we are finally able to see just how wrong they were," Avery added.
Others at the WHOI warn not to take the results of the study entirely out of context, noting that happy clams do exist in the sea. However, according to the findings, the research confirms that happy clams make up only about one-tenth of one percent of all the clams in the world, with the other 99.9 percent living "every second of every day in excruciating pain."
"We found that the clams suffer from a genetic abnormality called aquagenic pruritis," said Newton Merrill, Chairman of the WHOI Board of Trustees. "In layman's terms, it means that they are allergic to water. Allergic to water, and they are clams! Can you imagine? This cruel fate leads to a lifetime of austere depression.
"Oh no, the term happy as a clam could not be more wrong," Merrill said.
Scientists at the WHOI were actually able to train one of their subject clams, a Littleneck named Isaac, to communicate with them using a rudimentary clam language they developed for the study. They taught Isaac to squirt water at different frequencies and volumes to represent different letters, which they would then string together into words and sentences.
According to the report, the only words Isaac spoke, which he repeated over and over again, were "Kill me please. Kill me now."
"It is a horrible, horrible fate that clams suffer," summarized Merrill. "They are truly the unluckiest of God's creatures. We can only be thankful that they lack the opposable thumbs that would allow them to go on underwater shooting rampages, for they would certainly replace sharks as nature's most perfect killing machines.
"On the other hand, though, they are delicious," added Merrill. "And now we know for sure that they don't really mind us eating them."
The WHOI will be offering a new children's program called Clam Empathy beginning next month. Parents are encouraged to sign their children up early as there are a limited number of slots available.
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