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#280 Appalachian Elktoe

Critically Endangered

Around the World in 80 Days - Day 71

We are heading with Phileas Fogg back across the water to England again. These mussels are not in the ocean, they are freshwater ones and only found in the Tennessee river systems and streams in North Carolina. It is thought they used to be much more widely spread, but in 2000 biologists realized there had been an 80% drop in population. In the last surveys there were very few sites found, and at those sites the most well populated ones had only 15. Most sites contained fewer than 5 mussels. The baby mussels need a certain kind of fish to grow. they attach to their gills or fins, though not harming the fish, and they ride around on the fish until they are big enough to survive on the river bed. They grow to be a little over 3 inches long (wide?). They did not seem bothered by hurricanes and the disruption to the streams caused by that, but human caused changes in the streams have been devastating. They and the fish they rely on need clear water. Normal siltation they are able to tolerate, but sudden silt influx, dams, mining, or urban waste destroy their habitat.

Planning a trip with my kids for the next 3 day weekend. It would just be a day trip, but to a spot that you should be able to find some nice rocks. My oldest has his wisdom teeth out on the first, and he should be healed fine by then. We have a chance to find opals even supposedly. I would love that. Opals are my birthstone, and I think they are spectacular. I'm ok with diamonds, they are nice and sparkly, but I like colour. I prefer sapphires, rubies, etc., to diamonds. I'm really not much of a jewelry type person anyway. I wear a wedding ring and that is about it most days. I do have some jewelry I love, a charm bracelet with charms that to me signify the people I love. I have a fake opal ring from my youngest that I also love. I just never think to put on the jewelry. Honestly, I almost never wear make-up, and live in jeans and t-shirts too. I'm about as low maintenance as you can get. Seriously, I am happy just going to the grocery store with my husband and calling it a date. I don't need to feel spoiled to feel loved. I am blessed with a wonderful family. You have to be able to read subtlety when you are living with 3 introverts. Thankfully I am good at introverts.

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