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Phila. Shows Off its Mussels in World’s First City-owned Hatchery

Phila. Shows Off its Mussels in World’s First City-owned Hatchery

PHILADELPHIA —  Experts unveiled the world’s first city-owned hatchery for freshwater mussels on Feb. 16.  This attraction is part of a new exhibit at the Fairmount Water Works, which is free to visit.

The Philadelphia Water Department worked with the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary to create “The Mussel Hatchery” exhibit to show how scientists can breed freshwater mussels to improve waterways.  Each adult mussel can filter up to 20 gallons of water per day for up to a century.  These shellfish are one of the most endangered animal groups in North America.

“Healthy mussel beds were once abundant in most streams and rivers, helping to keep the water clean and enriching the ecology in so many ways,” said Dr. Danielle Kreeger, science director at the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary.  “Our goal is to rebuild those mussel beds to put nature back to work for us, and this new exhibit will show the world that we now have the technology to do it.”

The Partnership for the Delaware Estuary has spent more than a decade studying the benefits of local freshwater mussels.  The organization has developed ways to restore them, and ways to rear them in hatcheries through previous efforts with Cheyney University.  According to Jennifer Adkins, the nonprofit’s executive director, the new hatchery exhibit is a stepping stone in its long-term strategy.

“Our long-term vision is of a watershed teeming with shellfish, from oysters in Delaware Bay to ribbed mussels in marshes around the bay and freshwater mussels in rivers and streams,” said Adkins.  “A production hatchery using the same science demonstrated by this exhibit, but at a larger scale, is the next step for adding mussel beds to the list of habitats that can be restored to make our waterways cleaner, along with wetlands and forests.”

Contributors to “The Mussel Hatchery” exhibit include The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University; Victoria Prizzia of Habithéque, Inc.; Artist, Stacy Levy and many others.

Funding was provided by the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage and the Philadelphia Water Department.  Additional support came from The McLean Contributionship and the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.