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BEL AIR, Md. (AP) — Crabs and oysters get more attention, but Maryland officials are also working to support the state’s population of freshwater mussels.

The mussels are prized for similar reasons as oysters — the bivalves help filter the water. Mussels also provide a food supply for other species.

The Baltimore Sun reports biologists with Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources are attempting for the first time to grow tens of thousands of mussels in a hatchery.

The process involves harvesting larvae from pregnant mussels from Deer Creek in Harford County. The larvae are then placed in tanks with American eel, which breath in the larvae and then emit them through their gills when the baby mussels reach the size of a grain of sand.

The babies will be planted in the Patapsco River.


Information from: The Baltimore Sun,