Local volunteers search for increasingly rare shellfish

    Nearly 75 volunteers were recently trained to scour the area in search of one of the most imperiled species on the continent.

    After a two part training session, participants in the program are equipped with the tools to help locate the elusive freshwater mussel. The purpose of the program is to help the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary, a local non-profit, to target local streams that are in need of freshwater mussel restoration in southeastern Pennsylvania.

    The Freshwater Mussel Recovery Program, launched in 2007, is aimed to do just that. The Delaware River Basin was once home to over a dozen species of freshwater mussels. But because of pollution, dams, and degraded habitats, only one of these species is still common.

    “Our mussel restoration team has limited resources to survey thousands of stream miles where we have gaping holes in our data” said Dr. Danielle Kreeger, science director at the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary. “Healthy mussel beds function like natural waste treatment plants, but few streams have healthy mussel populations anymore. Since every restoration dollar is precious, we need the public’s help to be our eyes and ears in the field, reporting back what they find so we can do what we do best, which is research and targeted restoration.”

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