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Mussel (California)

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Mytilus californianus
Mussel (California)


They are found on the Pacific coast of North America, from Alaska to Mexico.


They live on rocks and pier pilings in tide pools that are sometimes wet and sometimes dry (middle intertidal zone).

Body Traits

They are blackish-blue with darker edges. They have growth rings and white blotches. They are about 5 inches long (130 mm).


They gather in huge beds, sometimes many layers thick. They attach to surfaces with fine fiber threads from their muscular “foot” that send out a glue that sticks them fast to where they are. Big waves can tear off mussels and star fish feed on them.


They open their shells just a bit at high tide to feed. They feed by pulling seawater through their shells and filtering out plankton in their gills to feed on.

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Males and females send out “broadcast” sperm or eggs into the water where fertilization occurs.

Mussel (California)

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