The largest bivalve in the Mediterranean
In 2020 Triton Research began a collaboration with numerous national and international bodies for the conservation of an endemic species of the «Mare Nostrum»: the Pinna nobilis.
Commonly known as fun mussel, the Pinna nobilis is today the largest endemic bivalve mollusc of the Mediterranean Sea, it can reach and exceed 80 cm in height. Its presence is often linked to the Posidonia oceanica meadows, an important protected habitat formed by algae, within which the Pinna stabilizes by anchoring itself to small rocks and to the seabed. Its “grip” is guaranteed by particular filaments, called byssus, which have an appearance similar to silk used in the past for the weaving of precious garments. The juvenile individuals are usually distributed at low depths, while the adults reach the lower limit of Posidonia (30-40 m).
This pearl of the Mediterranean is currently in serious danger of extinction!
The International Union for Conservation of Nature – IUCN classifies Pinna nobilis as a Critically Endangered species for numerous causes and threats. The main one recognized is water pollution which affects the larval stages of the species the most, compromising the development of the young. Then there is the illegal collection for ornamental purposes, absolutely prohibited at European level, and illegal fishing, which with the use of grazing tools the seagrass (trawling) indirectly affects the fun mussel anchored to them.
As if all this were not enough, a new threat has arisen since 2016: across the Mediterranean there have been many cases of death due to a parasite called Haplosporidium pinnae. Where present, this protozoan has exterminated about 95% of pre-existing populations, interfering with the life processes of the species. In particular, it does not allow the Pinna to close its valves, making it perpetually exposed and vulnerable.
It is for all these reasons that we at Triton have decided to act!
Hence the beginning of our collaboration with various partners to work on a common project aimed at safeguarding the Pinna nobilis with real protection actions!
The intent is in fact to repopulate the Mediterranean Sea with the few remaining Pinna specimens, making them reproduce in a controlled manner and hope for their immunity to Haplosporidium. It will not be easy to succeed in the enterprise, but we have full confidence in our partners and we really hope that our contribution can make a difference for this precious species!
In fact, the loss would not only be for the Pinna but also for all the species connected to it and which depend or interact with it. In fact, numerous living organisms settle between the scaly lamellae of its valves, and inside it, crustaceans can be found living in symbiosis with it.