Freshwater Mussel – 7/9/10

Observer: Paul Lauenstein

Observation Date: 7/9/10

Observation Time: 4:40 p.m.

Observation Location: outflow pool below Gavins Pond Dam

Common Name: Freshwater Mussel

Scientific Name: Elliptio complanata

Comments: Mussels are filter feeders that cleanse water. Of the 12 species native to Massachusetts, 7 are in trouble because of pollution and/or dried up ponds and streams. Elliptio complanata mussels are relatively common, but well pumping for human use, threatens mussels in Sharon. Excessive pumping of municipal wells, especially in hot, dry summer weather, lowers the water table and dries up the ponds and streams in which they live.

Mussel veligers hitch a ride on fish gills for a few weeks before settling on the bottom to take up a sessile existence as a filter feeder that can last decades. By hitching rides on fish, mussel colonies can repopulate upstream. Veligers of each mussel species attach to a specific species of fish. Thus, if a fish species dies out, the mussel species that depends on it will also disappear, along with the water filtration services they provide.

More Information: University of Massachusetts

Freshwater Mussel