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Freshwater Mussels

Posted on Sep 17, 2015

Is it just me, or does it seem this mussel is sticking it’s tongue out at us? Interestingly, mussels don’t have tongues at all! The white, fleshy protrusion you see is actually referred to as the mussel’s foot. While we often don’t witness mussels moving, as they do it very slowly, this is exactly what this one is attempting to do. Mussels will use their muscular foot to inch themselves across a stream or river bed when they feel they are in danger or need to find a more suitable area to settle. Once in place, a freshwater mussel will often bury itself into the substrate leaving only a small portion of the shell exposed and it will remain sessile as it siphons water in and out of its body. Mussels are excellent indicators of good water quality and they themselves contribute to improving the water’s quality by filtering out various particles such as algae, phytoplankton, bacteria and so on. We have found good numbers of freshwater mussels as we have carried out surveys this summer and we are thankful for all their hard work!

Freshwater Mussel

Elyse Henshaw
Conservation Technician