Pearl Thieves Threaten Mussels

Pearl Thieves Threaten Mussels

In a burn in the Highlands where the water is coloured brown by peat, scientists are keeping watch over a small colony of freshwater pearl mussels.

They've been reintroduced in an effort to reverse a dramatic decline in the species.

In amongst the dark stones on the river bed they are hard to spot.

Despite that, their location is being kept secret.

Freshwater mussels are increasingly targeted by thieves who kill all the mussels they gather in the hope of finding a precious pearl inside.

Federally-Endangered Freshwater Mussels

Federally-Endangered Freshwater Mussels

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Last year, shells discarded by poachers pointed to at least 15 kills on Scotland's rivers.That's dramatically up on the previous year.

Dr Peter Cosgrove, an ecologist who has spent years surveying Scotland's freshwater pearl population, believes even this may be the tip of the iceberg.

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