Quantcast

Eight Mussel Species Need Protection

The Center for Biological Diversity

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed to protect eight species of freshwater mussels in Alabama and Florida Oct. 3 under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). At the same time it proposed to designate nearly 1,500 miles of streams and rivers as critical habitat for the species. The eight proposed mussels have been waiting in line for federal protection since 2004 and are being proposed for protection as part of a landmark legal settlement reached earlier this year between the Center for Biological Diversity and the Fish and Wildlife Service, which will expedite protection decisions for 757 imperiled species across the country.

“Freshwater mussels are an integral part of the natural and cultural heritage of the Southeast, so it’s very exciting that these eight Alabama and Florida species have been proposed for protection,” said Tierra Curry, a conservation biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Endangered Species Act protection, along with critical habitat, is the best tool we have for saving species from extinction.”

Proposed for protection are the poetically named Alabama pearlshell, Choctaw bean, fuzzy pigtoe, narrow pigtoe, round ebonyshell, southern kidneyshell, southern sandshell and tapered pigtoe. They're found in the Escambia, Yellow, Choctawhatchee and Mobile River watersheds, where they are threatened by pollution and habitat degradation. Freshwater mussels filter water constantly, removing algae, bacteria and decaying matter and thereby making the water safer for humans. On the downside, they're particularly sensitive to pollution.

“Protecting these species will also protect streams that give drinking water and recreation to Southeast communities,” said Curry. “Living streams and rivers are deeply linked to the South’s rich culture and history. Helping rivers helps protect that culture.”

Freshwater mussels are the most imperiled group of organisms in the U.S. More species of freshwater mussels are found in the American Southeast than anywhere else in the world, but 75 percent of the region’s freshwater mussels are now imperiled. Last week the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service announced it would conduct a review of 374 other southeastern freshwater species to determine if they warrant federal protection as the result of a petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity in 2010.

The habitat that's being proposed to protect the eight mussels is in Bay, Escambia, Holmes, Jackson, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton and Washington counties, Fla.; and Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Coffee, Conecuh, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Escambia, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Monroe and Pike counties, Ala.

For more information, click here.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A roller coaster on the Jersey Shore flooded after Hurricane Sandy. Photo credit: Hurricane_Sandy_New_Jersey_Pier.jpg: Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen / U.S. Air Force / New Jersey National Guard / CC BY 2.0

New Jersey will be the first state in the U.S. to require builders to take the climate crisis into consideration before seeking permission for a project.

Read More
The Director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu speaks on Jan. 26 during a press briefing on studying the 2019-nCoV coronavirus and developing a vaccine to prevent it. Roman Balandin / TASS / Getty Images

Editor's note: The coronavirus that started in Wuhan has sickened more than 4,000 people and killed at least 100 in China as of Jan. 27, 2020. Thailand and Hong Kong each have reported eight confirmed cases, and five people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with the illness. People are hoping for a vaccine to slow the spread of the disease.

Read More
Sponsored
Healthline ranks Samoas, seen above, as the 11th healthiest Girl Scout Cookie. brian / Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0

By Nancy Schimelpfening

  • Nutrition experts say healthy eating is about making good choices most of the time.
  • Treats like cookies can be eaten in moderation.
  • Information like total calories, saturated fat, and added sugars can be used to compare which foods are relatively healthier.
  • However, it's also important to savor and enjoy what you're eating so you don't feel deprived.

Yes, we know. Cookies aren't considered a "healthy" food by any stretch of the imagination.

Read More
Actress Jane Fonda is arrested during the "Fire Drill Friday" Climate Change Protest on Oct. 25, 2019 in Washington, DC. John Lamparski / Getty Images

When you see an actor in handcuffs, they're usually filming a movie. But when Jane Fonda, Ted Danson, Sally Field, and other celebrities were arrested in Washington, D.C., last fall, the only cameras rolling were from the news media.

Read More
A solitary Dungeness crab sits in the foreground, at low tide on an overcast day. The crabs' shells are dissolving because of ocean acidification on the West Coast. Claudia_Kuenkel / iStock / Getty Images

As the Pacific Ocean becomes more acidic, Dungeness crabs, which live in coastal areas, are seeing their shells eaten away, according to a new study commissioned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Read More