TTF Volunteers Look for Mussels

Julie Slavet
Aug 2, 2012

Who is that in the Tookany Creek?
These happy volunteers include Glenside residents, Arcadia University Biology Department members, and Drexel University students working at the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center! They are standing in the creek at Wall Park in Cheltenham Township.

Our volunteers are lined up and ready to go!

Volunteers line up and get ready to survey for freshwater mussels! 

What are they looking for?
They are looking for freshwater mussels! These organisms are a type of bivalve related to clams and oysters. They come in a variety of colors and sizes and are usually found buried in the sediment on the bottom of a stream, with only two small siphons exposed. There are about 300 species of freshwater mussels nationwide.

Why freshwater mussels?
Freshwater mussels filter pollutants out of water, cleaning our waterways and playing an important role in natural ecosystems. However, they are the most imperiled of all plants and animals in our region and are rarely found in areas where they were once common.

Organizations like the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (PDE) are working to help these mussels, but the last comprehensive survey was done almost 100 years ago… so it’s time to survey again! Collecting and reporting this data will help scientists understand these organisms and find ways to help them make a comeback. Read more about PDE’s work with freshwater mussels here.

Did they find any mussels?
Freshwater mussels have been found in several streams and rivers around the greater Philadelphia area, but we have not yet found any in the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford (TTF) watershed. We have found lots of interesting rocks and artifacts in the headwater streams, and are looking forward to surveying farther downstream where we are more likely to find mussels! We report our finds (or lack thereof) to the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary because scientists want to know where we did not find mussels just as much as where we did. No data is data too!

A happy volunteer finds a clam shell!

A happy volunteer enjoys an afternoon in the creek and finds a clam shell!

Why is TTF doing this project?
Our job at TTF (Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership) is to improve the health of the TTF Creek and its watershed. We team up with organizations like the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary (PDE) to work together to improve the creek and get people involved and educated as watershed stewards at the same time!

That looks fun! How can I help?
You can volunteer, along with your family, neighbors and students, for upcoming surveying events! It is fun and easy. For detailed event info, please check out our website and RSVP to or 215-844-8100.

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