The Atlantic ribbed mussel is a common mussel species found on much of the shoreline of the eastern
Mussels are bivalves (meaning two shells) which are a family of mollusks. This puts them into relationship with snails, octopuses, squids and cuttlefish (in addition to a few other smaller families). Like all other bivalves (clams, oysters) these ribbed mussels have a muscular “foot” with which they are capable of crawling through the sediment. They typically will remain in one spot, however, unless their ecosystem changes drastically enough.
In fact mussels have the habit of holding themselves fast to stable objects such as grasses, rocks, other bivalves as well as docks and other man-made objects. They do this with something called “byssal” or “byssus” threads, strong, sticky threadlike structures secreted from their foot. This is what keeps mussel “clumps” held together and is both a strategy for keeping safe from predators (their shells aren’t as thick and hard as their cousins the clams) as well as for preventing themselves from being swept away by waves and tides. This also puts them in a mutualistic (symbiotic) relationship with marsh grass. The grass provides the mussel with an anchor to attach to and the mussels provide fertilizer in the form of waste products.
These mussels are typically found in marshy areas with just their very tops poking out of the mud. I found these in West Dennis on
This is a hilarious quote from the
Edible yes. Pleasant, no.
The Assateague Naturalist: http://www.assateague.com/ribbed-m.html
The EOL: http://www.eol.org/pages/449853
The Chesapeake Bay Field Guide: http://www.edc.uri.edu/restoration/html/gallery/invert/ribbed.htm