mussels

Endangered Mussels Released in the Green River

by Erica Peterson on October 25, 2011

Monte McGregor holds a young pink mucket, like the ones released in the Green River, next to the shell of a fully-grown pink mucket.

State and federal biologists have released more than 100 endangered mussels into the Green River by Mammoth Cave National Park.

The pink mucket mussel is a federally endangered species. The mussels used to be abundant in the Green River, but pollution and human interference with the water’s flow decimated the population. Now, scientists hope they can reestablish the population.

Monte McGregor is an aquatic scientist with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife. He says while freshwater mussels may be underappreciated by the general public, they’re very important to a river ecosystem and act as a barometer of a river’s general health

“They filter gallons and gallons of water a day,” he said. “They take all the little tiny particles of bacteria, algae, and they concentrate the stuff they don’t want on the bottom. And all these insects that live on the bottom of these streams, they’re able to get the food they can’t normally get to because the mussels are there.”

McGregor says when asked to name an endangered species in Kentucky, most people can’t.

“So one of the things we do is try to educate folks that the pink mucket mussel is just as rare as that lion or tiger or other African species that they’re familiar with, yet it’s in their backyard,” he said. “And it’s in the water that they’re drinking.”

The scientists hope the mussels they placed on the riverbed will burrow down, grow, and eventually reproduce.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Update: Endangered Mussels Return to Wild

by kespeland January 14, 2010

About a year and a half ago, we brought you the story of Kentucky’s endangered mussels, and the struggle to save them. Decades of pollution and habitat loss have put a large percentage of our watershed’s freshwater mussels on the federal endangered species list. Now, WFPL’s Kristin Espeland Gourlay has this update on one mussel – with a little good news.

Read the full article →

12 KY Candidates Named for Endangered Species List

by kespeland December 13, 2008

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has announced its annual list of proposed candidates for the endangered species list. 12 of them are in Kentucky.

Read the full article →

Freshwater Mussels: Endangered but Coming Back

by kespeland April 14, 2008

Kentucky’s rivers and streams once carried more than a hundred species of freshwater mussels. Today, nearly a quarter are endangered, and many are already gone. WFPL’s Kristin Espeland reports on why mussels matter, and how efforts to bring them back are breaking new scientific ground.

Read the full article →