Baton Rouge Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office
Southeast Region
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Freshwater Mussels of the Pearl River Basin

A light brown mussel in a hand

An inflated heelsplitter in a biologist's hand. Photo: USFWS.

The Pearl River Basin supports about 40 species of freshwater mussels, including the threatened inflated heelsplitter (Potamilus inflatus.) This mussel can grow to be over five inches long. Shells are typically brown or black, and they may be streaked with green rays in juveniles.

Heelsplitters, like most mussels, require good quality water, firm substrate, and are highly sensitive to excessive silt. Declines in mussel populations serve as early warning signs for water quality problems.

Historically, the inflated heelsplitter had been found in the Pearl River below Jackson. Currently, a small population is located in the West Pearl in Louisiana.

Last updated: September 22, 2014