BY MEGAN BRADLEY AND BETH GLIDEWELL, GENOA NFH
Have you ever wondered what it takes to get two biologists to the bottom of the Mississippi River looking for our native freshwater mussels? Each year our mussel biologists complete training, take their gear for servicing and then reassemble their kits to make sure they can safely dive for the season. Gear servicing involves ensuring that tanks that hold their air are safe and sealed, taking the regulators they breathe with to be cleaned, as the filters inside of them collect fine silt from the water and their occasional contact with the river bottom, and confirming that the vests they wear to be able to return to the surface are able to hold air. Most of a day is spent in the pool, proving that we can swim nearly a mile and refreshing a few basic SCUBA skills in a low-stress environment. Thanks to all of the preparations divers will be ready to begin collecting native mussel broodstock as soon as air and water temperatures warm up.