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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

12 February, 2017

Mytilus edulis: the common mussel



Whilst some people love a bowl of moules mariniere I have to say I am not keen! I prefer to see the common mussel (Mytilus edulis) in its natural environment on our coasts and sea shores. We plunder our seas enough for things to eat and it is taking its toll on the natural underwater world.
The common mussel is indeed common, in fact, it can be abundant in places. They grow mainly on rocks where they can attach themselves firmly but also grow on larger stone in more sandy and muddy situations. They can be seen on the inter tidal zone being able to close up and await the returning water when the tide turns. They also grow under the low water mark as well. Whilst we are probably all familiar with the mussel shell we may not have noticed that colour can vary from grey to dark blue to even purple; sometimes all on one shell. 
I was interested to read in my RSPB Handbook of the Seashore that mussels spawn in both spring and in the autumn producing free swimming larvae which then settle after a couple of months where they start to grow their shells. 
Mytilus edulis: the common mussel