We are excited about our partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and WV DNR on this mussel study!
USFWS, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the WVDNR partnered together to test the feasibility of extensively culturing freshwater mussels in three U.S. Army Corps of Engineer reservoirs in WV. USFWS and the WVDNR placed three cages with ~30 Largemouth bass infested with Pocketbook glochidia (larval mussels) in Sutton reservoir on 6/7/2018.
Over the next few weeks the mussels dropped off the fish and fell to the bottom of the cage where they continued to grow for about 3 months.
On 10/19/2018 USFWS, WVDNR, and USACE staff pulled the cages and recovered 3882 pocketbook mussels. About half of the mussels were greater than 15mm, which is the size required to tag a mussel to be stocked. Sutton proved to have the fastest growth rate and highest percent survival for the three reservoirs.
Freshwater mussels are an essential component of our rivers and streams. By their siphoning actions, mussels filter bacteria, algae, and other small particles, which make them one of the few animals that improve water quality. Mussels also serve as a food source to many species of fish, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The outer shell of a live mussel is usually covered by aquatic insects, algae, and plants. Even when dead, the empty shell functions as a nesting site for small fish like madtoms and darters.