Sunday, August 29, 2010

Discover Freshwater Mussels: Hidden Treasures in Our Lakes

By Andrea LaMoreaux
NH Lakes Education Director
Reprinted with permission from the NH Lakes Association

Have you seen a freshwater mussel in your favorite lake? This past weekend, my 21-month-old daughter found her first-ever mussel and she was absolutely ecstatic! (I have to admit, I was too since I've been doing my best to turn her into a lake rat). Upon finding this hidden treasure, she asked, as best as she could, "What, this?"

What are freshwater mussels
Freshwater mussels are one of New Hampshire's most hidden lake creatures. These animals live burrowed in the sediment or attached to hard surfaces, such as rocks, on the bottom of waterbodies. They constantly suck in water, filtering it through their fine gills, getting nourishment from microscopic plants and animals and obtaining oxygen.

Where are freshwater mussels found?
The United States houses the most diverse freshwater mussel population in the world. Nearly 300 species live in this country - approximately one-third of the estimated 1,000 species found worldwide. New Hampshire is home to at least 10 different species alone. Mussels live 10 to 15 years on average and researchers report that some live up to 100 years!

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