Cumbria freshwater rare mussels fish hope

Freshwater pearl mussels Freshwater pearl mussels are internationally protected and critically endangered
Conservationists on the mussel project The larvae were artificially introduced to the fish in tanks at the side of the river

Related Stories

Conservationists are giving a helping hand to west Cumbria's freshwater pearl mussel population.

The River Ehen is home to the largest viable colony in England, but it is an aging one with declining numbers and there are fears it could die out.

The crustaceans are dependent on host fish as part of their life cycle.

Millions of larvae have been artificially introduced to young salmon which have then been released into the River Ehen.

Mussel larvae attach themselves to the salmon's gills where they live and grow for their first few months of their life.

They cause no harm to their host, and drop off and bury themselves in suitable riverbed where they grow slowly and can live for more than 100 years.

The project was a joint initiative by West Cumbria Rivers Trust (WCRT) and the Environment Agency.

Diane O'Leary, from WCRT, said: "We hope that it is a big step to increasing the numbers of juvenile mussels surviving in the River Ehen.

"Mussels are essential to the river ecosystem. They are indicators of excellent water quality and they help to maintain suitable environmental conditions for other species, such as salmon and trout."

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Cumbria

Weather

Carlisle

Min. Night 13 °C

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.