What are Freshwater Mussels?
Freshwater mussels are bivalve mollusks just like oysters, clams, and saltwater mussels. Unlike saltwater bivalves, freshwater mussels live in our local streams and rivers. They provide valuable “ecosystem services,” or natural benefits, such as strengthening stream beds by keeping soils in place and providing food and habitat needed by other animals and plants. As filter-feeders, mussels supply another important service by cleaning the water in which they live. They suck water in and trap solids such as dirt, algae and other pollutants. Then they release the clean filtered water back into the environment. One mussel bed studied in Southeast Pennsylvania was found to remove 26 metric tons of solids from the water in a single summer season—as much as five grown elephants!
Download our guidebook to “Freshwater Mussels of the Delaware Estuary” now.