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The Trickle - saving the whales

September 24, 2009 - Brian Ferry

Not quite whales

I was squerching around through the mud at the new banks of the Conewango Creek with the mussel recovery team recently. (Turns out my boots are waterproof, but they have no mechanism for defending against the stink of creek mud clinging to them.) When I wasn't actually talking to or taking pictures of members of the team, I tried to help out. Freshwater mussels with a layer of creek slime on them look an awful lot like creek stones with a layer of slime on them. The team helped me with some searching tips. I found three mussels right away. They were all unoccupied shells (I'm assuming 'dead' but not sure, maybe they had really persuasive real estate agents). Then, I found a live one. It was a three-inch long wavy rayed lamp mussel. Not a Northern riffleshell, a clubshell or even the state rare threeridge, but I contributed to the saving of an invertebrate. The first few live ones I found were easy. The team would almost certainly have found them. Upstream a bit, though, I found two more. One was pretty big, about the size of my hand, fingers extended. It was surrounded by rocks and buried almost completely in the muck. The other was much smaller, maybe two inches long, and similarly hidden. They could easily have been left in the mud to dehydrate. The mussels didn't exactly jump for joy, hug me, or shout my praises from the mountain tops. They did clamp shut in fear, spraying water at me. That was thanks enough. I think I've found my calling.


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