Feb 06

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Nature’s Water Filter

Move over, Brita, mother nature has its own water filter.  Explore the amazing mussel:

Tamara Smith holding two Federally endangered species – clubshell (Pleurobema clava) and Northern riffleshell (Epioblasma torulosa rangiana) (via USFWS)

Native mussels do some heavy lifting in a stream.

“They feed on algae and plankton, and they help to purify that aquatic water system,” says Tamara Smith.

That’s Tamara Smith of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She says mussels have a fascinating life cycle. Females lure in a fish, and then attach their larvae to its gills for a ride upstream. But in many areas, dams block the way, leaving the hitchhikers in peril. The mussels also face pollution, and invasive species muscling in on their territory.

Relatively undisturbed waterways–like Pennsylvania’s French Creek – are strongholds for threatened mussels. But across the country, they’re declining rapidly–paying a heavy price for pollution.


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How do mussels indicate water health?  Hear Tamara Smith discuss further:

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Come see a time lapse of these mussels in action cleaning water of algae (via Ross Davies):

The fine print:




Permanent link to this article: http://www.currentcast.org/green-infrastructure/natures-water-filter/