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Common Pearl Oyster: Mollusk Habitat

Pearl thread is the cherished dream of many representatives of the beautiful half of humanity, especially when it comes to natural mother-of-pearl, which creates a mollusk. Meanwhile, few people know exactly what living organisms on earth produce this amazing biogenic formation and how the pearl mussel organism works.

Few people know that it is shellfish that produce pearls.

In appearance, the completely inconspicuous bivalve shell of black, brown and greenish tones with the glochidium larva hiding in it is the very creator by which humanity has the opportunity to admire the delicate beauty of the pearl of the river. Common pearl oyster, which is also called European because of its range, is a rather large mollusk, the size of which often exceeds 12 centimeters in length (the record figure was as much as 16 centimeters) and about 5 centimeters in width.

Today, mollusk pearl oyster is found mainly in the northern regions of the globe, spreading in small fresh water bodies of the Russian Federation (Valdai, Karelia, rivers flowing into the northern seas), countries of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Belarus, on the Atlantic coast of France, and also in the east and north -Eastern Canada and States. Unlike many other mollusks, shell pearl oyster prefers clean not stagnant rivers and streams with a fast current, which has a direct impact on the thickness of its flaps, making them lighter and thinner.

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And if now such shells are very rare, then in the last century it was easy to find their numerous populations, whose representatives preferred to dive with a sharp end into the sandy bottom at a depth of 25 centimeters to 2.5 meters or peel off the cobblestones located directly on the river thresholds. For example, in the waters of the Kola Peninsula, researchers counted 70 shells per square meter, but now only memories of such density remain.

Now pearl shells are a rarity in nature

Having dealt with where the margaritifera margaritifera currently resides does not hurt to become familiar with its structure, which has a number of unique features of its kind. Among them it is worth highlighting:

  1. Both valves in the joint zone have characteristic teeth, which, when closed, form a fairly reliable lock, preventing foreign objects from getting inside the shell. It is noteworthy that these teeth have a completely different shape, and if on the right cusp they resemble an irregular pyramid, then on the left side of the shell there are only two underdeveloped teeth, separated by a small recess.
  2. The edge of the abdominal region of these mollusks has a flat and sometimes slightly concave shape, which, in principle, is not much different from the classical structure of bivalve shells. The same can be said about the excretory, sexual and digestive systems of the margaritifera margaritifera.

The color of bivalve shells directly depends on their age. The older the clam, the darker it will be.

  • The gills of a freshwater pearl oyster are located near its stem, and if the mollusk is in a calm state, the water, through which, in fact, it breathes, enters the mantle cavity through an inlet siphon located in the lower part of the sash. After the fluid passes through the gills, it comes back, with the only difference that its removal from the body of the shell is through a completely different siphon, called the top one. That is why mollusks prefer to dig into the river bottom with a sharp end, leaving both siphons and half-open doors at the top.
  • The color of bivalve shells directly depends on their age. The older the clam, the darker it will be. A similar picture is observed in its mother-of-pearl layer of cream and pale pink shades, which over time can become covered by characteristic greenish specks.
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