You can call them clams or mussels, the names are interchangable, but they should also be called endangered. Here in Vermont there are eighteen separate species of freshwater mussels and of those, ten are listed as threatened or endangered while several others are considered rare.
In this month's episode of Outdoor Radio, biologists Kent McFarland and Sara Zahendra are joined by Mark Fergusion of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department as they visit downtown Winooski and search for freshwater clams in the Winooski River.
Freshwater mussels are given common names like the "pink heelsplitter", "fragile papershell" or the "pocketbook". They bury themselves in the mud but you can often find them filter-feeding the water with two holes at the top of their shells. These animals play an important role in filtering the freshwater in their ecosystems.
Also in this podcast, learn about how one species, Zebra Mussels, are taking over the local ecosystem. Lake Champlain is a biodiversity hotspot for aquatic animals. Many of the species of freshwater mussels that you find here can not be found in any other New England state.
Find more about freshwater mussels at these sites:
- Explore the Vermont Freshwater Mussel Atlas at the Vermont Atlas of Life and add your observation too.
- Watch this episode of the Vermont PBS Outdoor Journal - Vermont's Native Mussels.
- Learn about New Hampshire's freshwater mussels.
- Learn more about the invasive Zebra Mussels from the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.
Outdoor Radio is produced in collaboration with the Vermont Center For Ecostudies.