Alluring Diversity (watercolour, 5 x 6 in.) commissioned by DFO

11 April finds me lining up my six watercolours of female Lampsilis fasicola, the Wavyrayed Lampmussel, showing their stuff - six different styles of lures for attracting and parasitizing their host fishes.  This is highly unusual, having a diversity of lures in one species of mussel, and the reason why is not well understood! These are the original Bass-fishing lures, as the main host of this species of mussel is the Large-mouth Bass.

Our native fresh water mussels take advantage of fish to carry their larvae (called glochidia) to distant places, even upstream - while the planktonic larvae of the invasive alien Zebra Mussels can only disperse downstream.

Each species of fresh water clam has its own way to lure fish. The Rainbow Mussel (Villosa iris) has fringes that move like the legs of an overturned crayfish struggling to right itself. The female Snuffbox Mussel grabs the nose of curious darters and pumps her babies into its face.  

Glochidia, like tiny pac men barely large enough to see, attach themselves to the fins and gills of the fish, and are blistered over and carried around as little parasites for several weeks until they grow large enough to live on their own on the river or lake bottom. 

The Wavyrayed Lampmussel waves the fringe of its mantle like the tail and dorsal fin of a small fish - or a black tadpole, or a red leech - and when a curious Large-mouth Bass comes along and gives it a nip, the mussel claps her shell together, bursting the edges of her pregnant mantle to release her glochidia into the face of the fish.

While I've been working on these watercolours and the next painting which I will post here later, Fred has been busy "flipping" his clam data into a format for transfer to Fisheries and Oceans Canada. We will both be delivering our winter's work to them in a couple of weeks as the 30 Years Later Expedition heads into western Ontario. Watch this spot for adventures in spring field work!


Popular posts from this blog

Cooper Marsh Late August

White Water Lily

Little Marsh in Limerick