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Atlantic Ribbed Mussel (Geukensia demissa)

You'll most likely find these edible dark brown mussels projecting from the mud along marsh creeks (guts) and often among the marsh grass. Their shells are distinguished from most other mussel shells by the ribs that line the surfaces. Ribbed mussels are found along most of the East Coast; those in the photo were spotted at the edge of a gut by Toms Cove (see map).

The mussels attach themselves with tough byssus threads (lower photo, left side) to the marsh grass or other solid objects in the mud. These threads are secreted by a gland in their foot.

While many bivalves filter feed through a pair of siphons that draw in water and then expel it, mussels do not. When covered by the tide, mussels open slightly, and cilia, small hairs on the gills, draw in water and the food in it--usually algae--to the mouth.

When the tide is out, the mussels close, retaining waste products toxic to humans. For this reason, collecting mussels at low tide is usually avoided.

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