April 14, 2014
Crabby Monday...MUSSEL POWER!
Hello, Blogville Darlings. Today we would like to share a story of PURE MUSSEL POWER! Teeheehee. You see, being shelled ladies means that we have a keen interest in all creatures who are also with-shell. POL
Now, most of you know that we live in our crabitat in Sarge's house and that this territory is on top of a ginormous hill. At the bottom of our hill is the Allegheny River and a bridge that crosses it there.
The bridge is just to the left of this scene.
Well, darlings, the bridge is in need of replacement and this is where the MUSSEL POWER comes in. As the official peeps were preparing to demolish the bridge and build a new one, they found a rare colony of Clubshell Mussels and the endangered Northern Riffleshell Mussel. It is such a splendid group of shelled friends that it was found to be one of the very few and very large collections IN THE WORLD. Yes, that's right. We find that to be magnificent. Glorious even.
They are gorgeous creatures and we love them enormously.
Here is some scientific data about our neighbor friends.
Habitat: The Clubshell Mussel prefers clean, loose sand and gravel in medium to small rivers and streams. This mussel will bury itself in the bottom substrate to depths of up to four inches.
Behavior: Reproduction requires a stable, undisturbed habitat and a sufficient population of fish hosts to complete the mussel's larval development. When the male discharges sperm into the current, females downstream siphon in the sperm to fertilize their eggs, which they store in their gill pouches until the larvae hatch. The females then expel the larvae. Those larvae which manage to attach themselves by means of tiny clasping valves to the gills of a host fish, grow into juveniles with shells of their own. At that point they detach from the host fish and settle into the stream bed, ready for a long (possibly up to 50 years) life as an adult mussel.
It's Endangered: The Clubshell was once found from Michigan to Alabama, and from Illinois to West Virginia. Extirpated from Alabama, Illinois and Tennessee, it occurs today in portions of only 12 streams.
Habitat: The Northern Riffleshell occurs in clean, firmly packed, coarse sand and gravel in riffles and runs of small and large streams. Of the 54 streams once known to be occupied by this species, six still support populations of the northern riffleshell, and only three of these populations show evidence of reproduction. Two are in the Allegheny River system (Allegheny River and French Creek, Pennsylvania), and one in the Sydenham River (Ontario, Canada).
REASONS FOR CURRENT STATUS: Dams and reservoirs have flooded most of this mussel's habitat, reducing its gravel and sand habitat and probably affecting the distribution of its fish hosts. Reservoirs act as barriers that isolate upstream populations from downstream ones.
Erosion caused by strip mining, logging and farming adds silt to many rivers, which can clog the mussel's feeding siphons and even smother it. Other threats include pollution from agricultural and industrial runoff. These chemicals and toxic metals become concentrated in the body tissues of such filter-feeding mussels as the northern riffleshell, eventually poisoning it to death.
Zebra mussels, an exotic (non-native) species which is spreading rapidly throughout the eastern U.S., also pose a threat. By attaching in great numbers to native mussels such as the northern riffleshell, zebra mussels suffocate and kill the native species.
The middle Allegheny River contains the worlds most extensive known population of northern riffleshell. Though it is listed as an endangered species in Pennsylvania, the population at this site has been identified as a source of animals for species recovery efforts due to the planned replacement of the Hunters Station Bridge.
Goodness, this is so wonderful! These amazing friends are being fiercely protected by both Federal and Pennsylvania State agencies dedicated to animals like these endangered mussels. So, then there is the problem of the bridge. In 2013 an attempt was made to move the mussels so that they would not be killed when the current bridge is demolished/dropped and a new bridge built in its place. Well, darlings, they moved approximately 4,000 mussels in August of that year. They were transported to Illinois, Ohio and West Virginia to help repopulate the species in those waters. The mussels could not simply be moved up or down the Allegheny because it would overpopulate those areas and threaten their lives. So, away they went to new homes.
That might be the end of this story, however, they didn't just find a few thousand shelled friends. NO, THEY NOW KNOW THERE ARE ABOUT 200,000 OF THEM HERE! Isn't that wonderful! So many more of them are surviving. Well, now the majestic protector-peeps won't allow the old bridge to be dropped until many more mussel lives are saved. Hurraaaayyyyy! This whole project will be done in such a way as to ensure the least possible destruction and upset to the mussel populations. And many will begin new lives and families in areas where they haven't lived in ages.
Now, we crabby girls must admit that this issue is causing a delay to this bridge replacement. There is also a major issue with the golf course that is here next to our territory. The golf course problem will delay this project by several years, however that is not nearly as fascinating as the story of our shelled friends the Clubshell and Riffleshell Mussels.
GO SHELL POWER!
FEAR THE MUSSEL POWER!
Ciao and Little Pinches,
Beachnut, Oceana, Shelldon