“It used to be that mussels were covering over half the space in the intertidal zone. More than 50 percent of the space and now they are covering typically less than 10 percent. They have gone from this species that basically defined the rocky coastline to being a minor part of it.”

That’s a quote from this fine story in the Portland Press-Herald about the mysterious disappearance of wild mussels from the rocky shoreline of Maine, even as farmed mussels thrive.

Predation by green crabs, the effect of dredging, changing water temperatures and sea water acidification from CO2 are possible answers, but nobody really knows. Ecology is just too darn complicated.

The article is full of good data, but it’s not afraid to add a bit of whimsy:

In terms of poundage, mussels are the fifth biggest fishery in Maine; still, they represent just 4 percent of the total catch according to 2014 Department of Marine Resources data, way behind lobster (40 percent). And Nault is quick to point out that when it comes to value, mussels are way down the chain. They rank 11th behind oysters, urchins and – oh the ignominy – worms.

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