Mussels video to be aired on VeldFokus
ABERDEEN - “I first discovered them when I was 12-years-old. This year I am 40”, says Vergil Green, resident of Aberdeen.
“Last year when I came back home, I remembered them from my childhood and went looking for them again. I recorded a video of the mussels I found close to the river. Recently I submitted the video to 50/50, a SABC 2 environmental program, and they informed me that it would form part of the VeldFokus episode to be recorded on Tuesday 20 September.”
Prof Robinson-Smythe at the Center for Invasion Biology at University of Stellenbosch regarded the video as interesting and identified the mussels as Unio Caffer (Krauss 1848), a freshwater mussel endemic to South Africa.
Living Unio Caffer mussels are brown in colour, but those found by Green are white. Interesting is that Green found the mussels quite a distance from the current banks of the Kraai River, indicating that at some point in the past the river must have been much wider.
Furthermore, a specimen of the same white mussels (dead) is catalogued and kept at the Albany Museum in Grahamstown. The museum specimen was collected in January 1935, some 87 years ago.
Freshwater mussels in rivers in South Africa is not uncommon. But finding so many dead mussels in an area relatively far from the river, like Green has found in Aberdeen, reveals more about what this area must have looked like a century ago. The exact age of the mussels can be determined with the necessary taxonomic and other tests, but at this point Prof Robinson-Smythe merely indicated that “these mussels are very old”.
Green intends to contact relevant institutions and departments at the universities in the Eastern Cape in his quest to determine the age of the mussels. It is, after all, evident that the remnants of these mussels must be close to 100-years-old, if not even older.