AmaTerra’s divers/biologists, working with subconslutant malacologists from Freese and Nichols, Inc., conducted one such freshwater mussel survey for TxDOT’s proposed Farm-to-Market (FM) 485 bridge replacement at the Little Brazos River north of Bryan, Texas. Since the water was muddy with essentially zero visibility, AmaTerra’s staff divers swept and squished their hands into the mud across every inch of the river bottom within the project's impact footprint and removed every mussel they touched.
In all, the team pulled out 485 native live mussels, representing 10 species. These included (among others) yellow sandshell (Lampsilis teres), threeridge (Amblema plicata), smooth pimpleback (Quadrula houstonensis), and Texas Lilliput (Toxolasma texasiensis). Each specimen was catalogued and immediately moved to a nearby location upstream and away from construction. There, they were placed back into the river sediment in a location and orientation that assured the best chance of their survival.
The team kept a keen eye out for water moccasins (they did see two!) and snapping turtles but didn’t have any unfortunate run-ins. Whew!