Why is a freshwater pearl mussel so special?

Everybody loves a good pearl. Did you know that the mussel it comes from is admirable, too?

The freshwater pearl mussels are one of the longest-lived invertebrates. Scientists have determined that they can live for up to 210-250 years. Scientifically known as Margaritifera margaritifera, these are bivalve molluscs, meaning they have a compressed body enclosed within a hinged shell. Inside the shell is a thick, iridescent layer called the mother-of-pearl. The freshwater pearl mussels live on the beds of fast-flowing rivers, feeding by taking in water and ingesting any fine organic matter that comes with it.  Just imagine, an adult mussel can filter more water in a day, than what you use for a shower! They live seemingly safe, partly buried in sand or gravel. Yet, they are never safe because of the fine-quality pearls they can produce. Humans have always exploited them in the search for pearls, and these mussels have now become an endangered species.

Picture Credit : Google 

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