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A Talk on the Wild Side.

Service Biologist Leroy Koch talks mussels with Prince Charles

Elsie Davis shares a fun story involving British royalty.

Leroy Koch and Prince Charles
Leroy Koch with Prince Charles. Photo by Gordon Garner, Kentucky Waterways Alliance

There are only six mussel species in the United Kingdom compared to more than 300  in the United States,  yet Leroy Koch, a biologist in our Kentucky Field Office, and Prince Charles share common interests in conservation and mussels.

Koch met Prince Charles at a private reception in March at the home of Christina Brown, who is involved in the nonprofit Kentucky Waterways Alliance.  Prince Charles visited Louisville that day for several events on sustainability.

Koch told Prince Charles about the spectacle case mussel, which has a British connection.  Its scientific name is Cumberlandia monodonta; and the name “Cumberlandia” came from the Cumberland River and region in southeastern Kentucky.  An early explorer, Dr. Thomas Walker, is credited with discovering and naming the Cumberland Gap and Cumberland River back in 1750.  He used the name Cumberland after the Duke of Cumberland, who was a son of King Edward II.  

Following the reception, Koch sent Prince Charles, via Brown, a couple of books about mussels donated by the authors.

“It was a real treat to be able to say I shook hands with Prince Charles and actually had some time, although very brief, to talk about mussels,” Koch says.  “He only was at the reception about 30 minutes, so any time at all with him was special.  I really appreciate Ms. Brown's thinking of mussels and myself as warranting Prince Charles’ time, even if very briefly.”


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