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Put a Little Mussel Into It!

Westcott Phillip, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 

If you’ve never been to the Wagner Free Institute of Science  at 1700 West Montgomery Avenue (not far from Temple University), then this coming Thursday, February 26, is a great chance to visit this “unusual natural science and history museum in its original Victorian setting.” At 6pm, Dr. Danielle Kreeger, Science Director for the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (PDE), will give a talk on Aquatic Underdogs: How Freshwater Mussels Can Help Save our Great Waters

The mission of the PDE (which the Philadelphia Water Department works closely with!) is “to lead science-based and collaborative efforts to improve the tidal Delaware River and Bay, which spans Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.” Among these efforts is Dr. Kreeger’s work on the ecology and restoration of bivalve shellfish and coastal wetlands, as well as climate adaptation, living shorelines, and ecosystem services. 

And freshwater mussels are some amazing—if severely challenged—little bivalves in need of restoration. PDE has great info about freshwater mussels including how they, as filter feeders, “suck water in and trap solids such as dirt, algae and other pollutants then release the clean filtered water back into the environment.” 

Unfortunately, as the title of Dr. Kreeger’s lecture suggests, the freshwater mussels in this area have faced a steep decline, from over a dozen different species to just one now commonly found in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. The freshwater mussel has been described as “the most imperiled of all organisms in North America.” Dr. Kreeger’s presentation “will describe the fascinating lifestyle and status of freshwater mussels and chronicle how local efforts to restore these animals will protect our waterways.”

The museum at the Wagner Free Institute of Science (often called a museum of a museum) will be open prior to the lecture, which begins at 6pm. There is no cost to attend but registration is required. Click here to register.

Freshwater Mussels from the Unionidae Collection at the Wagner Free Institute of Science