Warmer Waters Make Weaker Mussels

February 24 [Sun], 2013, 18:02

When it comes to mussels, bigger isnt necessarily better. Tiny fibers called byssals enable musselsthe shellfish kindto anchor themselves to coastlines despite crashing ocean waves.

But new research shows that the attachment fibers weaken in warm water. A temperature rise of 15 degrees Fahrenheit lessens fiber strength by 60 percent, possibly causing them to fail completely. As climate change raises ocean temperatures, mussels may be forced to cooler waters.

of the University of Washington presented the research at the meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston:

"Researchers have dissected mussel beds and found, I think, upwards of 100 different species. So if the mussels go it really changes that community.

"We also eat mussels and so theres applications in aquaculture. The way they grow mussels, is the mussels have to remain attached to the ropes on their long lines. So if the mussels fall off before the farmers return to reap their harvest, then theyve lost a lot of money."

Calla Cofield

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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