The Livers of Our Rivers

To the naked eye, mussels and other bivalves don’t appear to be doing much. But these filter feeders are hard at work. The mussel takes in water through its incurrent siphon (on the right side in this image), and tiny cilia move the water through its gills, which filter out plankton and other edibles. Wastewater flows out the exacurrent siphon, seen here as the plume coming out the top of the mussel.

Mussel species are important indicators of the health of both fresh and marine water bodies. Because they’re stationary and they are constantly processing the water, the health of these bivalves is indicative of the ecosystem’s overall health. (Image credit: S. Allen, source)

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