Charru Mussels (Latin: Mytella Strigata) are a mussel species native to South and Central America that were first found in 1842 by Alcide d'Orbigny, a French naturalist.
Charru Mussels have been in the news recently because their presence in Kerala's backwaters poses a serious threat to the region's indigenous species.
Charru Mussels - Overview
Charru Mussels (Mytella strigata), an invasive species endemic to the shores of South and Central America, are rapidly spreading in Kerala's backwaters. An invasive species is a non-native organism that is intentionally or accidentally brought into the local environment. Its presence has a detrimental on the surrounding ecosystem more frequently than not, entirely altering it and causing environmental or economic harm.
Charru Mussels may very well have arrived on Indian coastlines adhering to ship hulls or even as a larval form in ballast water releases for unknown reasons. Ballast is the seawater carried by ships to improve their stability. Cyclone Ockhi, which hit the region in 2017 (South India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives), may have accelerated their invasion.
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Characteristics of Charru Mussels
A mussel is a general word for a group of bivalve molluscs that live in both saltwater and freshwater environments. Panama, Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela are all home to Charru Mussels. Nevertheless, there are invasive species in the Philippines, Thailand, and India.
The Galapagos Islands, as well as the Pacific Coast from Mexico to Ecuador, are also said to be home to Charru Mussels. These mussels can survive in temperatures ranging from 20°C to 23°C, but they have also been observed to thrive in temperatures ranging from 13°C to 36°C. They are unable to survive in temperatures below 36°C and have a decreased likelihood of surviving in colder temperatures.
Between the months of July and October, a Mytella Strigata spawns. The embryos grow into larvae before maturing into bivalve veligers that look like little clams.
Areas Impacted by Charru Mussels
Charru Mussels have been detected in many of Kerala's estuaries and backwaters, including Kayamkulam, Vembanad, Chettuva, and Ponnani, according to surveys. Kerala's backwaters are a series of lakes, canals, and lagoons that run parallel to the Arabian Sea's shore. Charu mussels have wreaked havoc on Ashtamudi Lake, a Ramsar area in the Kollam district.
Concerns Regarding Charru Mussels
- The spread of the Charru Mussels is posing a severe danger to the indigenous species variety of Kerala's brackish water ecosystems.
- This invasive species is displacing other mussels as well as clam species in the backwaters, posing a threat to molluscan fishermen's livelihoods.
- The Ashtamudi lake, in addition to being a Ramsar Site, also supplies subsistence to 3000 people, which is jeopardized by the presence of exotic species.
The instance of Charru Mussels emphasizes the importance of conducting extensive research on invasive biological species in order to create awareness and concern about biodiversity conservation.
It also shows that invasive organisms reach non-native coasts through both purposeful and unintentional causes. Although the existence of Charru Mussels in Indian waterways cannot be totally eradicated, actions can be taken to prevent their spread.
FAQs on Charru Mussels
Q.1. Is it possible to eat Charru Mussels?
Yes, Charru Mussels can be consumed.
Q.2. What exactly are Charru Mussels?
Charru Mussels are found throughout the coasts of South and Central America. They can be black, brown, purple, or dark green in colour. They can withstand a wide range of salinity and temperature but not above 36 degrees Celsius.
Q.3. What is the name of the Charru Mussels in Latin?
Mytella Strigata is the Latin name for the Charru Mussels.
Q.4. When and by whom were the Charru Mussels first discovered?
Charru Mussels are a mussel species native to South and Central America that was discovered in 1842 by French naturalist Alcide d'Orbigny.
Q.5. Which cyclone affected the invasion of Charru Mussels?
Cyclone Ockhi, which hit South India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives in 2017, may have accelerated the invasion of Charru Mussels.