Low Tide Life: Blue Mussel

Photo of Blue Mussels

Blue Mussels (Mytilus edulis) live along the New England coast in intertidal and subtidal waters. They anchor themselves by attaching their byssus filaments to a substrate, and in turn sometimes serve as anchors for seaweed. These bivalves are preyed upon by fish, other shellfish, humans, and birds, including Herring Gulls and Common Eiders.

Two inedible mussel species also live in coastal New England waters. Ribbed Mussels (Geukensia demissa) prefer salt marshes and mud flats, and have radially ribbed shell surfaces, while Horse Mussels are typically larger than Blue Mussels, and have a double-bump at the narrow end of each shell.

Mainers can collect two bushels of Blue Mussels per day for personal consumption without a license, though, according to a 2015 article, these marine bivalves have become scarce in places where they were formerly abundant. Wild harvested or cultured Blue Mussels are available at fish markets and grocery stores near me for $2-3 per pound. (To view the following images in full-size, click here.)

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