The Freshwater Pearl Mussel is an ancient survivor from a 200-million-year-old molluscan family. Exploitation and degradation of its favoured clean, fast-flowing river habitat has left the species in trouble, with just one population remaining in England. Now, the West Cumbria Rivers Trust (WCRT) is trying innovative methods in an effort to ensure the species’ survival. Diane O’Leary, Jackie Webley and Iain Sime describe the work undertaken so far, and discuss the species’ future in Cumbria and beyond.
The River Ehen, in Cumbria, holds the last breeding population of Freshwater Pearl Mussels Margaritifera margaritifera in England. The river is designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) for Freshwater Pearl Mussel and Atlantic Salmon Salmo salar.