• as big as a horse

    June 30, 2009

    During last week’s geoduck dig Nathan found this horse mussel sticking straight up out of the sand.

    horse-mussel

    There are a lot of horse mussels on the beach, but because they live out deep you only see them on really low tides. They’re much bigger than the ubiquitous blue mussels: this one was about 5 inches long and they can grow as large as 9 inches long. Like other species of mussel, the horse mussel attaches itself to firm substrates using byssal threads. A horse mussel’s periostracum (or thin, outer layer) is covered with long, soft bristles. We have no idea what purpose this serves.

    horse-mussel2

    The inside of a horse mussel is as red as a blood oyster.

    inside2

    We found several sites that claimed horse mussels are eaten in Europe, but they’re not on the menu in Lilliwaup anytime soon.

    empty-shell

    The interior of the mussel’s shell is very iridescent compared to other Hood Canal bivalves, which tend to be plain janes.

    upclose-inside

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