Anacostia River #MusselPower: Almost a Year Growing Mussels

Our alewife floaters have shown remarkable shell growth, their growth rate is known to be faster than that of pondmussels or lampmussels.  In order to survive they need specific host fish from the shad family like American Shad and herring. Our alewife floaters have shown remarkable shell growth, their growth rate is known to be faster than that of pondmussels or lampmussels. In order to survive they need specific host fish from the shad family like American Shad and herring.
July 26, 2019 by: Jorge Bogantes

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Before August 2018
Photo taken in August of 2018. These mussels were fresh from the Harrison Lake National Fish Hatchery in Charles City, VA. The photo was taken right before deployment in floating baskets at Kingman and Heritage Islands Park in northeast DC. The mussel on top is an Eastern pondmussel, the mussel on the bottom is an Alewife floater. Both are species listed as "Species of Greatest Conservation Need" in both Maryland and DC. 

After July 2019
Almost a year later in July (2019) these mussels are from our top performing site in terms of shell length growth, Kingman Marsh. The site is actually located at Kingman Lake right by the Langston Golf Course right north of where the previous picture was taken. Mussel on top is an Alewife floater, the mussel on the bottom is an Eastern pondmussel, oops! the species order was switched... But, just look at the awesome growth!

We are back with the mussel power blog entries! It's been a hectic spring/summer dealing with trees and mussels.Thanks again to all the folks who have helped with mussel monitoring since August of last year (2018)! That includes our great master naturalists, volunteers and interns. The last monitoring for this first batch of mussels will be on August 15th, make sure you sign up here since there will be limited slots. On July 15th we were able to collect all data and had no issues with water levels or missing baskets -so far only 2 baskets have been lost. Here are some highlights from Monday July 15th. This data includes only our original 2 species: alewife floater and eastern pondmussel, because of different reasons, the data for them is more comparable. That's why I have mostly excluded eastern lampmussels from here:

 
  • "KM" the Kingman Marsh site by Langston Golf Course is still the top site in terms of shell length growth, followed by "KPTID" Kenilworth Lake (tidal site). 
  • "CSUP", the former Capital SUP site, is also on top (trailing KPTID) followed by "KI" which is Kingman Island right by the "big meadow" where they do the blue grass festival. Actually, there is no statistically significant difference between the top 4 mentioned sites. 
  • The site with the least growth is still KAG (the pond) followed by the barge and BWP. 
  • Average shell length is 2 inches for both species although alewife floaters are now bigger since they grow faster than pondmussels. 
  • The biggest mussel was a 2.9 inches long Alewife floater at KM. 
  • The smallest mussel was a 1 inch long eastern pondmussel at the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens pond. 
  • Mortality went up and it is now 6.7%, this figure does include all 3 species including the eastern lampmussels, but it is still low considering that it's been almost a year! 87% of the dead mussels were alewife floaters and 10% pondmussels. We have learned that even though they grow faster, alewife floaters are more sensitive to some conditions like low dissolved oxygen and other conditions we are not quite sure.  

 

Mussel basket sites
These are our mussel project propagation sites. An additional site was added on the southeastern corner of Heritage Islands with surplus mussels we got from the hatchery. 
 
August will be the last monitoring month and September will be the release month! These mussels will now go into their new home in the river bed at Kingman Lake and Kenilworth Lake. Some specimens will be send to the UMD College Park for different analyses (microplastics, bacteria, etc.). Stay tuned for the release date (s). 
 
Jorge

 

Jorge Bogantes

Jorge Bogantes

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