The Minnesota Zoo | Freshwater Mussel Lab
Mussels are often out-of-sight and out-of-mind. But native mussels are important for healthy rivers and lakes. Sadly, freshwater mussels are the most at-risk group of animals in the United States. Five species native to Minnesota are listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Minnesota Zoo is working with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to help mussel populations by rearing mussels for release into the wild.
I created this set of illustrations for the interpretive signage at the new freshwater mussel lab at the Minnesota Zoo--the lab showcases important conservation updates and educates the public about these important creatures.
Watercolor-style mural illustrating the freshwater mussel habitat and neighboring species in Minnesota
One of the more fascinating things about freshwater mussels is how they reproduce--some species need to expel their larval mussels close enough to attach onto the gills of fish (to grow until they are large enough to settle on the bottom), and have evolved truly impressive ways of enticing those fish to come near--like using their fleshy lips to imitate the fish's food, a small struggling minnow.