September 13, 2018
UNE researchers and students are working with Bangs Island Mussels to help the owners understand factors affecting the mussels’ health.
Their work is the focus of a report that aired on NBC Boston.
The company’s co-owner Matt Moretti has been farming mussels in Maine for nearly a decade, and while they are on pace to have a record-setting year, his farms had been showing some concerning signs.
"Two years ago, we had a bit of a setback," Moretti told NBC Boston. "We had a mortality event. Probably 20 percent were actually just dying on the line. We were dumbfounded."
Adam St. Gelais, M.S., UNE assistant research scientist and UNE NORTH assistant director for science, and Connor Jones (Marine Science, ’19) are collecting data on the floating mussel farm in Casco Bay. They are studying how the mussels are affected by their diet, the amount of stress they’re under and other environmental factors, to get a better handle on growth rates and mussel tissue quality.
One factor being explored for the die-off is warming ocean waters.
"Mussels are at the whim of the environment," St. Gelais explained to NBC Boston. “Temperature is obviously very important because it controls the mussels’ metabolism.”
As part of the on-going research sensors have been set up that provide data on ocean temperature, light and salinity. The data can help the owners of Bangs Island Mussels better understand what’s impacting their business.
"Hopefully there are ways we can mitigate this in the future," Moretti said.