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Endangered mussels bound for the Powell River

On September 25, 2012, the Service , Virginia Tech, Lincoln Memorial University, and several other partners released 5,000 endangered mussels into the Tennessee stretch of the Powell River.


Biologists released more than 4,000 one-year-old endangered oyster mussels and 1,000 one-year-old endangered combshell mussels across four sites on the Powell River. The animals were propagated and reared at Virginia Tech’s Freshwater Mollusk Conservation Center in Blacksburg, Virginia. The release is the largest recovery effort to date for the two endangered mussels in the Powell River.


The Powell River is one of the nation’s most diverse, with nearly 100 species of fish, and 35 species of mussels. Mussels benefit people and wildlife alike. Mussels clean rivers by filtering algae, bacteria and debris suspended in the water. Mussels are sensitive to water pollutions and are used by scientists to monitor river health. Many animals such as otter, fish, and migratory birds reply upon healthy freshwater mussel assemblages as a food source.


Credit: Gary Peeples/USFWS


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Taken on September 25, 2012