Well, after getting reblogged by thebrainscoop, my follower numbers have nearly doubled, and I have no idea what to do with that.
Hi new people!
Well, after seeing #stand with unionid bivalves, I knew what I had to write about next.
Unionid Mussels are a family of mussels that frequent the rivers of the Midwest. Due to what we’re doing to those rivers, many of the Unionids are becoming endangered.
This fellow happens to be a Wartyback Mussel, who I think has a cool name, and a look to match. There are other cool names in the group, such as:
- Long Solid
- Purple Catspaw
- Pink Mucket
- Pyramid Pigtoe
By the way, all of these are endangered in Ohio.
Aside from wonderful names, Unionids have some pretty cool reproductive strategies. Because mussels aren’t exactly fast swimmers, they have to figure out how to spread their young without them all getting swept downstream.
You see that fish in the middle of the picture? That’s not a fish. That’s an egg case full of tiny mussel babies. When a large fish like a bass decides to have a snack, BOOM! They get a face full of baby mussels, properly called Glochidia. This is what they look like:
Those tiny fangs are used to clamp onto the fish’s gills, where they hitch a ride back upstream. There the glochidia fall off and burrow into the sand. Eventually they find their way into the family business, filtering tiny organic particles from the water.
That filter-feeding lifestyle is why so many Unionids are endangered. All the silt and toxins we dump into the water get drunk up by these guys, killing them.
Many aquatic ecologists are doing everything they can to save this group. The Ohio State University even has a breeding facility. There, they capture fish and infest them with glochidia. That has to be most confusing event in that fish’s life.
So proud. Bivalves are amazing. Spread the love.