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Bid to save rare freshwater river mussel in Wales

Bid to save rare freshwater river mussel in Wales
From BBC - January 1, 2018

One of the most endangered shellfish in Britain could be handed a lifeline by scientists in Wales.

Freshwater pearl mussels are being bred as part of a programme run by Natural Resources Wales (NRW).

So far, 1,300 juvenile mussels have been grown at a Powys fishery.

Conservationists hope the mussels will eventually have a controlled release into Welsh rivers - bringing the species back from the edge of extinction.

"This is an important project because of the threat to the freshwater pearl mussel," explained Dr John Taylor,NRW's fisheries specialist.

"We do not find any baby mussels in our rivers now, the only ones we find are around 50 to 60-years-old. We have not found any baby mussels for decades now."

The freshwater pearl mussel was once abundant in Welsh waters, but despite legal protection there is now just one stronghold left in Wales, in Gwynedd.

They are one of the longest living invertebrate animals, and can survive for over 100 years.

"We need to do more to help the survival of species threatened by increasing pressure from society and climate change," added Dr Taylor.

They need rivers with clean, well-oxygenated water and stable gravels.

Freshwater pearl mussels: The facts

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