A 9x12" archival reproduction of original painting. Printed on French Paper Company 100% recycled and hydro-powered paper. Ships flat, in a protective sleeve, between cardboard.
An ode to our endangered freshwater bivalves and the riparian communities where they live.
River mussels are beautiful and inspiring little beings. Given clean and fine gravel beds and moderately clean water, as well as a balance of algaes and leaf-fall from riparian flora, they thrive. They filter-feed, which means they are an important part of the water cleaning cycle, so long as they are not overloaded with silt and toxins (today, they often are.)
They also have an important relationship with the freshwater fish: mussels are an essential food source for the fish and the fish play a crucial role in mussel's reproductive process. The way they make babies is by dwelling in close groups. Male mussels will release their sperm into the current of the river, and when females detect it they take it into their gills where eggs grow and hatch into larvae. When the larvae are mature enough, they are released from the mothers and attach themselves to fish, some of the same fish that feed on adult mussels. They grow into miniature mussels for a while on the fish, feeding on the ever changing current. And when big enough to go it alone, they detach and fall to the river bottom.
If the bottom where the mussel babies detach is too silty or mucky, they'll suffocate. They need a balanced river bottom, which means a fine gravel bed with larger cobbles and stones. We can provide this kind of habitat by making sure there are trees planted along all river and creek banks to hold back the soil with their root systems. And we can scale down our agriculture and till our fields less frequently, cutting back our runoff issues. If the mussels go, many fish go, clean riverwater goes, and our inland waters look a lot different. More information here: