New York City has some of the most grimy and grubby waterways, swarming in “runoff from wastewater treatment plants” and cigarettes.With the waters being so mucky, it is nearly impossible for water life to survive. Water plants and fish can’t thrive because of algae, the algae is eating up most of the oxygen; which causes the waterlife to deplete. Algae is mostly found in fresh bodies of water, and is described to be a greenish-yellowish color.
What if we could save the waters with mussels? Ribbed mussels could bring a promising future for the New York waters. When using thousands of these mussels they are a bacteria-vacuum, they suck up all the dirt and grime.
According to Julia Rose who is a ecologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a group of volunteers, marine scientists, and mussel farmers went out for days retrieving about 32,000 ribbed mussels! They collected the mussels from the “salt marshes and mudflats of Jamaica Bay in New York Bay.” These mussels are natural born cleaners and they could really restore the waters of New York! The nutrients these mussels feast on are phosphorus and nitrogen. These mussels won’t have to worry about being poached and served on a dinner plate in 5 star restaurants, because the give off a natural chemical that is vile to taste.
When putting the ribbed mussels to the test, researchers inserted a “dissolvable cotton thread”. Next the researchers decided to place some of the mussels to nylon ropes, and then used the remaining mussels to submerge in a mesh bag which just to be hung over a raft that was specifically designed for this. Finally the researchers plunge the mussels just a littles away from the “Hunts Point Wastewater Treatment Plant”, 830-1600 metric tons of nitrogen annually is pumped into the New York waterways.
After six months time, 30 of the mussels were brought back by the researches so they could dry out, and ground the mussels tissues so they take measurements of the nitrogen levels. The researchers “estimated that the 32,000 mussels had likely removed about 6 kilograms of nitrogen from the water.” The researcher reported these results to the Environmental Science & Technology. The researchers are very hopeful that if we use hundreds of these specialized rafts then we can make a stride towards cleaner waters in New York.
The idea is to clean the water in a safe and efficient way, but obtaining young ribbed mussels isn’t very easy. The researchers had to use fully grown mussels from a salt marsh that was about to be patched up. The mussels would need to be switched out very often, and according to Eve Galimany who is a shellfish biologist at the Milford Laboratory, the younger mussels will intake the nutrients into their own tissues because younger mussels grow faster. The older mussels can’t replenish as fast.
Polluting New York waters is a very sad but common occurrence, so when researchers find an revolutionary stride to clean it up, it is hope to restoring nature! 46% of all lakes in the U.S. have extreme levels of pollution and are the main reason for low aquatic life in lakes. When you truly take that in, it a very scary and harsh reality that pollution is getting out of control and we need to start making an effort to save our planet.