The freshwater pearl mussel (Margaritifera margaritifera) is an extremely long-lived species of mollusc (a 134 year old mussel was found in Estonia in 1993), found in fast flowing rivers and streams across Europe. The pearl mussel produces small, beautiful pearls inside its thick shell which is anchored to the riverbed . However, freshwater pearl mussels are subject to increasing pressure, and their populations across Europe are listed as threatened by the IUCN due to habitat loss, declining water quality and illegal harvesting to provide pearls for jewellery.
Pearls in Peril is a European Union LIFE project set up to protect and conserve populations of freshwater pearl mussels in Great Britain. We spoke to project manager Jackie Webley from Scottish Natural Heritage to find out more about this fascinating species and the project’s important work.
Freshwater Blog: Freshwater pearl mussels…
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