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Hooked mussel

Ischadium recurvum

The hooked mussel, also called a bent or curved mussel, has a ridged shell with a distinct hook on the front end. A common inhabitant of oyster reefs, it is often found
The hooked mussel, also called a bent or curved mussel, has a ridged shell with a distinct hook on the front end. A common inhabitant of oyster reefs, it is often found "wrapping up" oysters.

The hooked mussel is a bivalve whose dark, ridged shell is strongly curved, or “hooked” on one end. It is prolific in oyster reefs—often “wrapping up” oysters—and can outnumber the amount of oysters by several fold.

Appearance:

  • Small, generally one to two inches long
  • Shell surface has distinct ridges and curves, and has a dull-colored black or gray exterior with a shiny purple or rosy brown interior
  • Front end of the shell is strongly curved, or “hooked”

Habitat:

  • Hooked mussels attach to shells, rocks and other hard surfaces using strong, thin threads called byssus threads
  • Grow prolifically on oyster reefs, often “wrapping up” oysters

Range:

  • Found throughout the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers, but reach maximum size and greatest abundance in waters with low salinity

Feeding:

  • Hooked mussels are filter feeders that open their shells during high tide, drawing in water and filter food particles over their gills

Predators:

  • Predators are primarily seaducks, such as scoters and goldeneye

Reproduction and Life Cycle:

  • As hooked mussels reach sexual maturity, their mantle will turn either bright yellow or stippled brown in color
  • Spawning occurs from June to October
  • Free-swimming larvae drift in the water for a few months, eventually anchoring themselves on hard surfaces as they mature into adults

Other Facts:

  • Research suggests that hooked mussels can more than double the overall filtration capacity of an oyster reef. Hooked mussels also filter picoplankton, the smallest type of marine plankton, twice as effectively as oysters.
  • Hooked mussels can actually move by pulling themselves along on their byssus threads—releasing some and reattaching others—although this is a very slow process and they do not move very far.

Sources and Additional Information:


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