Freshwater Pearl Mussel
What is a pearl mussel?
Freshwater pearl mussels are related to many other more familiar marine mussel species such as common mussels and scallops. Pearl mussels are similar in shape to marine mussels but grow much larger and live far longer than their marine relatives. In fact they have a complex and fascinating life cycle during which they can live for well over 100 years, and in that time reach a length of over 15cm. Pearl mussels are dark brown to black in colour and feed by drawing in river water and filtering out fine particles. They live at the bottom of clean, fastflowing rivers.
Famously, and as their name suggests, freshwater pearl mussels bear pearls which have provided this mussel with an illustrious place in our cultural history. Yet over-exploitation for pearls presents a very serious threat to the continued survival of pearl mussels and pearl fishing is now illegal in Scotland.