Pearl Mussel Ink and Wash
- Artist: Mary McGrath
- Dimensions: 30 x 40 cm (11.8 x 15.7 inches)
The freshwater pearl mussel which is only found in near-pristine freshwater habitats can live for up to 140 years, making them Ireland’s longest living animal. The tiny Larvae and juvenile mussels need a clean, well oxygenated river bed in order to survive. They also rely on a host fish for part of their complex life cycle. Increased intensification of land use has contributed to poor water quality. The low level of survival is leading to an ageing population not capable of replenishing itself. European freshwater pearl mussel populations have declined by 90% over the past century. In Ireland, 27 freshwater pearl mussel populations are protected within Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) but these populations are also undergoing a slow decline, and face extinction unless action is taken.