mussel is a bivalve shellfish that can be found
in lakes, rivers, creeks, intertidal areas, and throughout the ocean. The saltwater
mussels (family Mytilidae)
and freshwater mussels (family Unionidae)
are not thought to be closely related, and are grouped in different subclasses, despite
considerable similarities in appearance. Cooked
mussels are a popular seafood item.
external shell is composed of two valves that protect it from predators and desiccation.
Protruding from a valve is an enlarged structure called the umbo, which
indicates the dorsal surface of the mussel.
are filter feeders that feed
on microscopic organisms called plankton. They do so by sucking
in water through their incurrent siphon. The inhaled water is then brought into
the branchial chamber by the actions of the cilia located on the gills for cilliary-mucus
feeding. The left over water exits out the excurrent siphon. The labial palps
finally funnel the food into the mouth where digestion can continue.
species, the European zebra mussel (Dreissena
polymorpha), is causing a serious problem in North America. From its first
discovery in American waters in 1988 it has spread to a large number of waterways
disrupting the ecosystem, displacing the local unoinoida mussels and damaging
harbours, boats, power plants etc.
mussels are used as the host animal for the cultivation of freshwater pearls. A
species of marine mussel, the Blue Mussel (Mytilus edulis),
is also cultivated as a source of food.
are usually found clumping together with one another
to hold in water. Those mussels found in the middle will have less water loss,
due to water capture by the clump.
are vertical pilings planted at sea for growing mussels. Here, bouchots are demonstrated
at an agriculture salon.
are a variety of techniques for growing mussels.
growth technique, or bouchot technique: pilings, known in French as bouchots,
are planted at sea; ropes, on which the mussels grow, are tied in a spiral are
the pilings; some mesh netting prevents the mussels from falling away. This method
needs an extended tidal zone.
mussels can be orange, or of a pale yellow.
can be prepared boiled or steamed. As for all shellfish, mussels
should be alive just before they are cooked. A simple criterion is that live mussels,
when in the air, are tightly shut; open mussels are dead and should be discarded.
Mussels open by themselves when cooked.