Pieces of muscle inside a shell

While most bivalves are known for their sedentary lifestyles, California floater mussels are born wanderers from the moment they’re shot out of their mothers’ shells. As larvae, the crafty creatures survive by hitching rides on fish and absorbing nutrients, before releasing to riverbeds and lake bottoms upon maturity.

First it gets ejected from its parent’s shell into the wide watery wilderness. Then it leads a nomad’s life clamped on the fins or gills of a fish. Once it’s all grown up, the mussel goes to work filtering the water, keeping it clean for all the life that depends on it.

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