Skip to main content

Nature's Riverkeepers, Mussels Receive Additional Protection on North Florida, Alabama Watersheds

Nature's Riverkeepers, Mussels Receive Additional Protection on North Florida, Alabama Watersheds
Mussel power: Lampsilis' display attracts host fish on the Coosa River, AL. Photo by Paul L. Freeman, The Nature Conservancy/published on Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Society website.

From Press Release/Center for Biological Diversity

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service extended Endangered Species Act protection to eight species of freshwater mussels and 1,494 miles of stream in Alabama and Florida today, following an agreement reached with the Center for Biological Diversity in 2011 to speed protection decisions for 757 species around the country. The mussels have been waiting in line for federal protection since 2004.



“Freshwater mussels are an integral part of the natural and cultural heritage of the Southeast, and it's very exciting that these eight species are getting the protection they need to survive,” said Tierra Curry, a conservation biologist with the Center. “The Endangered Species Act has a 99 percent success rate at saving species from extinction, so now these cool animals have a fighting chance.”

Newly protected are the Alabama pearlshell, Choctaw bean, fuzzy pigtoe, narrow pigtoe, round ebonyshell, southern kidneyshell, southern sandshell and tapered pigtoe. They live in the Escambia, Yellow, Choctawhatchee and Mobile river watersheds, where they're threatened by pollution and habitat degradation. Freshwater mussels are particularly sensitive to pollution; they filter water, making it cleaner for humans.

“Protecting freshwater mussels and their habitat also protects water quality for people,” said Curry. “Living streams and rivers are deeply linked to the South's rich culture and history — helping rivers helps protect that culture.”

The habitat protected for the eight mussels in Florida is in Bay, Escambia, Holmes, Jackson, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton and Washington counties; in Alabama it includes areas in Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Coffee, Conecuh, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Escambia, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Monroe and Pike counties.

Freshwater mussels are the most imperiled group of animals in the United States. More species of freshwater mussels are found in the American Southeast than anywhere else in the world, but 75 percent of the region's freshwater mussels are now at risk of extinction. The Center for Biological Diversity is working to protect more than 400 freshwater plants and animals in the Southeast.

Mussels reproduce by making a lure that looks like a young fish or insect; when larger fish attempt to prey upon the lure, the mussels release their fertilized eggs onto the fish's gills. Juvenile mussels develop as parasites on the gills before dropping off to begin life on their own. In dirty water, the fish can't see the mussel's lure, so the mussel has no chance to reproduce.

Once widely used to make buttons and jewelry, mussel shells, like trees, accumulate growth rings that can be used to determine their age. Freshwater mussels can live for centuries, making them among the longest-lived invertebrates.

To read more about mussels and other freshwater mollusks, click here.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

Recent Videos

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Store

Refurbished 1987 Alumacraft Jon Boat | One Man's Dreamboat

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Learn

New Berkley Finisher: The All-Around Live Sonar Lure

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Gear

New Berkley Power Switch: Powerhouse Lure Designed for Foward-Facing Sonar

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Gear

New Berkley Krej: A Reversed Lip Jerkbait?

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Store

How to Install New Fuel Tanks in an Old Boat

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Videos

Testing Out the Latest from Old Town in the Marquesas

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Store

How to Powder Coat: Benefits of Powder Coating Metal Fuel Tanks

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Gear

Father & Son Customize a 20' Center Console | One Man's Dreamboat

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Gear

Best Features of the Shallow Sport X3

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Learn

How to Fix an Outboard Motor that was Submerged in Saltwater

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Store

Analyzing a Hurricane Damaged Boat for Restoration

The crew at Marine Customs Unlimited get started on the finishing touches for the Albury Brothers build with a custom da...
Store

How to Design & Build a Custom Dash Panel for a Boat

Florida Sportsman Magazine Covers Print and Tablet Versions

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

Preview This Month's Issue

Buy Digital Single Issues

Magazine App Logo

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Florida Sportsman App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get the top Florida Sportsman stories delivered right to your inbox.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Florida Sportsman subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Enjoying What You're Reading?

Get a Full Year
of Guns & Ammo
& Digital Access.

Offer only for new subscribers.

Subscribe Now