Friday, July 13, 2012

Etowah Heelsplitter

6/14/2012 - I found a population of Etowah Heelsplitter (Lasmigona etowaensis) in a shallow tributary in southern Murray County. This species usually occurs in small spring-fed creeks in the Upper Coosa. It is one of the few native Georgia freshwater mussels that has not suffered the ill fate as many others. Several species are thought to be extinct, and many others have had a drastic decline over the last century. In contrast, the Etowah Heelsplitter is not rare, but appears to be abundant in suitable habitat. I found seven in a matter of minutes along a 50' stretch of stream. This is a very small trib that flows into Beamer Creek, which converges with Polecat Creek, and empties into the Conasauga River. Little is known about the life history of this species, but it is suspected to be similar to others of this genus. I photographed each specimen then carefully returned them to the stream-bed. 


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