Friday, May 30, 2008

The Mystery Creature Strikes Again

Last fall, Megan and I were wading in the Olentangy River looking for fish and she suddenly stopped, stared down into the water, and with quite a strange look and a point said "WHAT is THAT?"

We looked down, and sure enough, a freshwater mussel, embedded into the river substrate, was displaying its lure designed to attract fish. The lure looks just like a live fish, and even has two "eyes" and waving "fins". To me, freshwater mussels are one of the most interesting and amazing creatures on the planet, simply because they appear to be such simple beings, yet their lures mimic fish so incredibly it just blows my mind. Last year, we only captured still images, but today, I captured video. Sit back, relax, and prepare to be amazed if you haven't seen this before.


  1. Wow....If I had seen that I wouldn't have had any idea what I was looking at! Glad you posted it! Beautiful river...can see why you want to stay near it.

  2. That's too much! Nature never ceases to amaze...

  3. Neat! I had no idea we had freshwater mussels here, or that they have lures that mimic fish so well! Good luck with the house hunting!

  4. I love the video! I remember that last year- we were seining for fish and I nearly stepped on it- I'm glad I looked down!

    Can't wait to go wading with you- Meg

  5. At least some species of mussels have a larval stage called the glochidium. This tiny organism looks like an almost microscopic clam with huge fangs. They live by clamping down on fish gills and sucking their blood.

    When they grow large enuf, they drop off, thank you very much, and become river bottom mussels that filter-feed.

    Glochidia are sprayed by momma into the faces of curious fishes, which take them in thru mouth and gills, and thus become parasitized.

    This method of luring fishes, mainly sunfishes, is new to me. Thanks!

  6. WOW, that was COOL! I've never seen that before, neat!
    Thanks :)

  7. That's very interesting indeed - thanks for sharing the video. Are freshwater mussels edible (sorry, I'm always thinking about food :)?

  8. This is the plain pocketbook, Lampsilis cardium. Nice video

  9. Mary- Thank you.

    Lana- yes, it really does.

    Kathleen- yep, we do have plenty of mussel species, 11 were identified last summer in the Olentangy River at Graceland where this mussel was doing its thing.

    Thanks Megan, lets go.

    Jaymes- Thanks

    Guy- I bet you could find some in the Cuyahoga.

    Boy- From what I understand, different mussel species are adapted to live with different fish species. Some mussel larvae even live in the gills of mudpuppies. Fairly amazing, isn't it?

    Chris- Thanks, it is really neat, I'm lucky I caught this mussel "doing its thing"

    Adam- Hmm...very interesting comment! I'm not sure we'd want to eat the mussels form the river, even if we could. Them being filter feeders and all. Really though, I've heard of anyone eating freshwater mussels. In fact, it is illegal to have any dead shells in your possession- they are protected by state law.

    Mussel Boy- You should meet Florida boy. Thanks for the help with the ID, it is much appreciated.


  10. Hi Tom, very cool find. If a picture is worth a thousand words- I wonder how many words the video is worth- it demonstrated your explanation flawlessly.