When things are left in the river they become habitat for all of the animals that live there. Mussel cages are no different. Despite our best efforts, a handful of cages were left in the St. Croix River for more than 4 years. There wasn’t much left except the bases that still provided excellent habitat for native mussels. It’s unlikely that the mussels crawled in themselves, instead it’s likely that their host fish were hiding in the structure provided by the bases and the juvenile mussels dropped off and grew there. Species found included Endangered Higgins Eye, Plain Pocketbook, Fatmucket, Paper Pondshell, Giant Floater, Pink Heelsplitter, Threeridge, White Heelsplitter, Mucket, Creeper and Cylindrical Papershell. While we were recovering the cages we also looked for Higgins Eye broodstock and found some displaying mussels and some natural surfaces providing habitat as well.
By: Megan Bradley