[from NC Zoological Park e-mail from John Groves, Zoo Curator of Reptiles]
"We are currently assisting staff in the mussel recovery program at NC State University in raising larval mussels in our African lake.
"This project will expand to two or three of the Zoo's ponds or lakes when more species of mussels are available for this project.
"Currently there are three mussel/fish cages in our African lake that house sunfish that have mussel larvae in their gills. The mussels will grow in the fish gills and in the fall will drop out to develop..."
"It takes a very long time for this process to occur in captive conditions and the current research is to test the effects of mussel larval rearing in more natural situations for faster growth and development.
"The mussel larvae in the fish gills cause no harm to the fish. This is the normal process for mussel reproduction and growth of the larvae.
"Both the fish and mussel species being reared here are species that naturally occur in the [ very nearby] Richland Creek system.
"The fish cages in the African lake are being monitored by staff from NC State University, Jody Stancil and his [NC Zoo] horticulture staff at the zoo and myself.
"Please do not disturb these cages in the lake. They are easily seen near the dam on the lake. One cage is submerged and two are floating, but secured to the bottom of the lake.
"The cages will be removed in October to continue the mussel growth in captive conditions. Additional fish/mussel cages will be added to this experiment when other mussel species are available to impregnate fish with their larvae.
"If this experiment is successful it could increase the reproduction, rearing and growth of several endangered mussels in North Carolina for release back into areas where these mussel populations are low or extirpated.
"Mussels are very important invertebrates in our aquatic systems throughout the state...helping to keep these aquatic systems clean."
Labels: freshwater mussel, horticulture, invertebrate, Jody Stancil, John Groves, mussel, NC State U., North Carolina Zoological Park, Richland Creek, sunfish