5,500 freshwater mussels released in Richmond stretch of James River

A golden riffleshell mussel gets placed in Indian Creek, a tributary of the Clinch River, near...
A golden riffleshell mussel gets placed in Indian Creek, a tributary of the Clinch River, near Richlands in Tazewell County.(Gary Peeples/ U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Published: Nov. 15, 2020 at 7:06 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - More than 5,000 freshwater mussels were released in the James River and expected to improve water quality in the Richmond area.

The initiative was completed by the James River Association, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Department of Wildlife Resources. Each mussel is expected to filter between 10 and 20 gallons of water per day by removing algae, bacteria and other small particles.

“Freshwater mussels are essential members of the ecosystem providing cleaner water, keeping sediment in place, and providing food and habitat for other organisms,” says Erin Reilly, staff scientist for the James River Association.

Two species, the Alewife Floater and Yellow Lampmussel, were placed on the river bottom by divers. They were tagged with tiny markers that are the size of a grain of rice, which allow scientists to find the mussels in future years and collect data on their growth and survival.

Once prevalent in the James River, freshwater mussels are lost due to pollution, dams and loss of habitat. Virginia is home to 81 freshwater mussel species, 41 of which are considered endangered or threatened by the state, the James River Authority reported.

“Virginia has been propagating and releasing freshwater mussels for over two decades, with most of the conservation and restoration efforts in watersheds like the Clinch River in southwest Virginia and the Nottoway River in southeast Virginia," said Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources Malacologist Brian Watson. “With the positive results we have seen in those locations, we now hope to bring the same to the James River."

Copyright 2020 WWBT. All rights reserved.

Submit a news tip.