Mussel Fitness

Last week, biologists hoping to jumpstart the population of an endangered mussel species released more than 1,000 baby pink mucket pearlymussels into Kentucky's Green River. The wee critters -- each no bigger than a grain of sand -- were bred from 14 pink muckets at the Kentucky Department for Fish and Wildlife Resources' Center for Mollusk Conservation.

Like many U.S. mussel species, the pink mucket face habitat threats from pollution and river damming. Their rather unusual breeding practices don't make their situation any easier. From an Associated Press report:

Male mussels release sperm, which travels downstream to fertilize the females. When young mussels become larvae, they must spend about three weeks living in the gills of a particular type of fish before they drop off and begin their own lives. For pink muckets, that fish must either be a bass, walleye or sauger.


According to the report, 25% of U.S. mussel species are endangered, and less than 24% of species are considered "stable."

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