Photo Credit: Sociedade Portuguesa de Vida Salvagem

Breeding the most endangered bivalve on Earth: Margaritifera marocana


Conservation Problem

The species is presently restricted to a single river stretch. 

The river levels have been decreasing over the past decades due to the presence of a large dam upstream of the population and increasing water extraction for urbanization and agriculture use.

Due to their sessile behavior many mussels have already died stranded in the banks due to water shortage. The species is highly threatened since population and urbanization is increasing together with water usage.

Project Activities

The project will construct an ex-situ rearing system to allow for the establishment of an Ark ex-situ population.

Two re-circulation systems will be built in the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Cadi Ayadd in Marrakech including one for mussels.

A second key activity is the collection of mussel stocks in Morocco. Around 20 adult mussels will be collected by hand in previously identified sites with the highest density of mussels.

The collected mussels will be transported to the University of Cadi Ayyad in Marrakech using oxygenated water tanks where they will be fed and monitored daily by the University staff members of the project.

In tandem with these activities will be awareness raising for the plight of the mussels through the broadcast of a documentary film.

Project Outcomes

The main outcomes of the project will be the establishment of a captive population as an Ark for conservation and to initiate the breeding programme.

The project team also expects to have a completed documentary on the conservation of the mussel to be shown in Morocco by a local television network.

Further, the project expects to hold a captive population of Margaritifera marocana and start a breeding programme that may allow to augment the existing wild population and reintroduce the species in other suitable habitats that were known to contain specimens in the past.

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