30 Interesting Facts About Mussels

  1. Mussels are invertebrate animals that belong to mollusks. They live in freshwater as well as in marine water. These animals are common in cold seas around the world.
  2. There are around 1,000 known species of freshwater mussels in the world, present in rivers, lakes, streams, etc. Nearly 750 of these species belong to the Unionidae family.
  3. Edible farm mussels are inexpensive and nutritious. They contain beneficial fats necessary for brain health. They are also a good source of protein, Vitamin B9, Vitamin B12, zinc, iron, and other micronutrients. (Source)
  4. Mussels can be used as fertilizer in organic farming thanks to the presence of nutrients like phytoplankton. They also assist in liming and reduction in eutrophication. (Source)
  5. Mussel meal can replace a fish meal for egg-laying hens. The mussel meal improves the egg-laying frequency and egg yolk pigmentation compared to a fish meal. All the other parameters remained almost identical. (Source)
  6. Animals living in the intertidal zone face low tide and high tide states. Mussels can survive this zone by anchoring themselves to the rocks in high tides. During low tides, mussels can keep from drying by holding seawater in their closed shells. (Source)
    An intertidal zone
    Mussels can live in intertidal zones

  7. Mussels have importance in the cosmetic and health industry. The glycogen from mussels is used for moisturizing and UVB protection. (Source)
  8. Europe supplies around 33% of total mussel production in the world. 78% of mussel food is consumed in Spain, France, and Italy. (Source)
  9. It is necessary to cook fresh mussels. Eating already dead mussels can cause food poisoning and other diseases due to various contaminations and infections in these mussels. (Source)
  10. You should avoid eating mussels with broken or damaged shells. Removing the “beard” (hairs that grow from the shell) of mussels before cooking is also necessary. (Source)
  11. Few species of saltwater mussels are edible. But the taste of freshwater mussels is intensely bad. They also act as parasites for fish in freshwater.
  12. The shells of most species have dark blue or dark greenish-brown color. Mussels have a pearl color inside the shell.
  13. Freshwater mussels have one foot-like organ. Most of the species remain stationary their entire life. But few mussel species can move around the riverbed with their single foot.
  14. Most mussel species fix themselves to rocks or other solid objects through byssus threads, strong fibers made from protein.
  15. Marine mussels are usually pear or wedge-shaped. They are 5 to 15 cm (2 to 6 in) long. However, the size of different mussel species vary from one to 12 inches. 
  16. Mussels are filter feeders. They process a large amount of water through filters inside their body and trap phytoplankton during this procedure. This feeding behavior is present in other mollusks, baleen whales, and several fish.
  17. Like a few other mollusks, the mussels can also produce pearls. These pearls are the result of a defense mechanism against parasites.
  18. The reproduction process is different in marine and freshwater mussels. Marine mussels reproduce by releasing their sperm and egg into the water. The fertilization process occurs outside the body of marine mussels. In freshwater mussels, males release sperm into water which enters the female through its siphon. Consequently, the fertilization process takes place inside the female mussel.
  19. Mussels can reduce aquatic nutrient pollution. An abundance of nitrogen and phosphorus in rivers and streams can cause low oxygen levels, loss of seagrass, and other problems. Mussels can clean millions of gallons of water daily from this pollution by filtering nitrogen from bacteria, algae, and other substances in this water. (Source)
  20. Mussels are frequently eaten by humans, starfish, aquatic birds (gulls, ducks, etc.), sea snails, otters, sea lions, etc. (Source)
  21. Mussels can trap their predators, dog whelk and winkles (both sea snails), through their byssal threads. The winkles can escape within minutes, while dog whelk can take several hours to get free. Both these sea snails achieve freedom by pulling the thread continuously. (Source)
  22. Studies are underway to use byssal threads of mussels in surgery as a replacement for surgical thread and staple. (Source)
  23. Many mussel species can live for up to 60 or even 70 years in suitable habitats. A few species can live for 100 years or more. 
  24. There is a lot of water inside mussel shells. Therefore, extra water is not needed while cooking mussels.
    Blue mussels
    Blue mussels are in human consumption for thousands of years

  25. Blue mussels have been in use for human consumption since 6000 B.C. The usage of the “bouchots” harvest technique started in France during the 13th Century. (Source)
  26. Moules, a combination of mussels and fries, is the national dish of Belgium. It is served in most of the seafood restaurants in this European country. (Source)
  27. Consumption of raw or partially-cooked mussels is a major risk factor for HAV (Hepatitis A virus) infection. (Source)
  28. Few species of freshwater mussels are invasive, which produce harmful ecological impacts on environments beyond their native range. Two of the most common ones are zebra mussels and quagga mussels. (Source)
  29. Male and female mussels have different colors of meat. Male muscles are pale in color, while females have an orange color. 
  30. The larvae of freshwater pearl mussels are attached to the gills of several fish species. These fish act as hosts of these larvae in the parasitic stage. The number of host fishes plays a vital role in the abundance or decrease of the freshwater pearl mussel population. (Source)


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