Scotland Attempts to Raise Mussel Population

Photo: Ness and Beauly Fisheries Trust

Photo: Ness and Beauly Fisheries Trust

A project in the Highlands is helping to spread freshwater pearl mussels to parts of rivers where the rare shellfish are currently not found.

Poaching, loss of habitat and pollution are among the reasons for dramatic declines in numbers of the animals.

The Ness and Beauly Fisheries Trust has begun artificially attaching glochidia, young microscopic mussels, to the gills of young salmon or trout.

The glochidia cause no harm to the fish and drop off in spring.

This unusual part in the mussels' lifecycle also occurs naturally.

Artificially attaching, or encysting, the animals is seen as a way of helping to distribute the creatures to new areas, or return them to where they were once found previously.

The process involves collecting the young glochidia as they are released in cloudy, white blobs from adult mussels.

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