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  1. #1
    Pearl Maven Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Caitlin's Avatar
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    Default Unios (freshwater mussels) in Tennessee

    Unios in America are very important critters that were overfished in the 19th century for their fantastic pearls and are now making a small comeback as science realizes how important they are to the environment.
    Here is another article in the ongoing saga:
    http://www.knoxnews.com/kns/science/...069081,00.html
    Biologists work to restore mussel population

    Most-endangered group of animals in nation once filled this region's rivers
    By DEBRA MCCOWN, Bristol Herald Courier
    October 16, 2006
    CLEVELAND, Va. - Freshwater mussels filter drinking water and serve as an important warning when something isn't right with a river, and they are the nation's most-endangered group of animals.
    They once filled the region's rivers, but dams and pollution have wiped out most of their habitat.
    "There's only really one population left," restoration biologist Jess Jones said Friday of the endangered oyster mussel. "What we're trying to do is build back and create populations in this river and other rivers in the southeastern United States."
    Jones spent Friday transplanting 58 mussels from the Tennessee side of the Clinch River in Hancock County to a part of that river between Cleveland and Carbo in Russell County in Virginia.
    The mussels showed up Friday morning in a beat-up green cooler with a little machine that puts air bubbles in the water.
    Each was carefully tagged with little red numbers glued to its shell, making it possible for researchers to monitor the growth of a population over several years.
    Then, Jones carried them out into the river, chilly and swollen with Thursday night's rain, and placed them in the streambed around Cleveland Islands.
    The gravel and shallow, moving water around the islands make the perfect habitat for the mussels, Jones said, and for the fish they depend on to carry their young as part of their reproductive cycle.
    Before any mussels could be moved, he said, the site was researched for five years to determine its suitability, and it took more than a year to get the necessary permits.
    Decades after the passage of environmental laws, a handful of rivers is finally clean enough to reintroduce endangered mussels to their former range, but it's slow going, Jones said.
    So far, the project has moved 200 adult mussels from one section of the river to another. Biologists have also introduced 4,600 juvenile mussels, each slightly larger than a grain of sand, from labs at Virginia Tech and Buller Hatchery in Marion.
    Plans are to continue reintroducing the mussels over the next few years.
    "These guys can't pack their suitcases and move," explained Braven Beaty, an ecologist with the Nature Conservancy, which owns the property where the mussels were released. "It has to be a much more holistic approach than just finding a single spot in the river where they are doing well."
    Until the mid-20th century, mussels were plentiful throughout the Tennessee River system, said Don Hubbs, a mussel biologist for the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
    In the 1800s, people would go down the rivers after church on Sunday and open mussel shells, hoping to find pearls, Hubbs said. Soon, they began using the shells for mother-of-pearl buttons, which were made from the shiny inside layer.
    But, he said, the Tennessee Valley Authority built dozens of dams on the Tennessee River and its tributaries, flooding most of the mussels' habitat. Many species went extinct.
    Jones said the section of river where he placed the mussels Friday, however, has seen steady improvement, particularly with upgraded sewage treatment facilities in the area, which no longer release harmful chemicals into the river. Better mining and land-use practices have also contributed to water quality, he said.

    Copyright 2006, KnoxNews. All Rights Reserved.
    Caitlin

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  2. #2
    Pearl Maven Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Caitlin's Avatar
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    Here is another article about Tennessee Freshwater mussels.
    <H2>INTRODUCTION

    From to pearl buttons of the early 1900s to the contemporary cultured pearl industry, shells of freshwater mussels have been used by humans for centuries. This exhibit explores the biology and history of human use of these little-seen Tennessee animals.
    With more than 150 species and subspecies recorded in the state, Tennessee has one of the most diverse freshwater mussel faunas in North America.
    TENNESSEE FRESHWATER MUSSELS


    Turncilla donaciformis
    (Fawnsfoot)

    Epioblasma flexuosa
    (Leafshell)


    Lampsilis fasciola
    (Wavyrayed Lampmussel)
    (24K)

    Obovaria retusa
    (Ringpink)
    (19K)
    </H2>
    Caitlin

    How to hand-knot pearls without a tool

    My avatar is a Sea of Cortez mabe pearl. One of a pair of Mexican handmade earrings.

  3. #3
    Pearl Maven Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Caitlin's Avatar
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    Here is a link to a definitive book about TN fw mussels
    <H2>ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

    Additional information on Tennessee's freshwater mussels is available in The Freshwater Mussels of Tennessee, authored by Dr. Paul W. Parmalee, curator of the McClung Museum's extensive freshwater mussel collection, and Dr. Arthur E. Bogan, North Carolina State Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh, North Carolina.
    This volume was published in 1998 by the University of Tennessee Press. The work, a major reference that describes the various mussel species, their ecology, and distribution, is available in the McClung Museum Shop.
    </H2>
    Caitlin

    How to hand-knot pearls without a tool

    My avatar is a Sea of Cortez mabe pearl. One of a pair of Mexican handmade earrings.

  4. #4
    Pearl Maven Senior Pearl-Guide.com Pearl Expert Caitlin's Avatar
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    And links from this article:
    SELECTED WEB RESOURCES

    - Conchologist's Information Network (Conch-Net)
    Freshwater Mussels
    - Congressional Research Service
    Freshwater Mussels: America's Hidden Treasure
    - US Fish and Wildlife Service
    Freshwater Mussels in Alabama
    - Alabama Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries
    Freshwater Pearl - Tennessee State Gem
    - University of Tennessee, Martin
    INHS Mollusk Collection
    - Illinois Natural History Survey
    Caitlin

    How to hand-knot pearls without a tool

    My avatar is a Sea of Cortez mabe pearl. One of a pair of Mexican handmade earrings.