We believe that there are natural solutions to a lot of the problems we are facing as a civilization. We believe that man and nature should work in symbiosis - in a mutually beneficial relationship. Thus, to the problem of eutrophication and marine pollution we have looked at the ecosystem as a whole and have carefully chosen our intervention. The place in the food chain taken by the common mussel makes it a potential ally in the effort to reverse climate change. It is a filter feeder and absorbs nutrients and micro pollutants from the water. In order to thrive mussels need a surface to attach on. In turn their presence present attracts other species both higher and lower in the food chain leading to an overall ecosystem boost.
The Blue Mussel - Nature's Filter
Mytilus Galloprovincialis, more popular as the blue mussel, is a tiny (up to 10 cm) creature of the deep sea, yet it has an irreplaceable role in the marine ecosystem and human lives. These mussels are essentially the living filters of the sea - they feed by filtering seawater to remove tiny plants and animals. They are highly tolerant to increased sediment levels and help for their reduction. They could be used to rid coastal waters of phosphates and nitrates generated from sewage, fertilizers, and other pollutants. Further on, their presence provides habitat and prey for other animals, increasing local diversity.
The mussel species are potentially very important in the battle to reverse climate change. Their role in the marine ecosystem food chain can be a natural way to reduce the negative effects of eutrophication. The nutrient emissions coming from agriculture, rural living, the atmosphere and many other diffuse sources increases coastal primary production leading to increased biomass at the bottom of the food chain. This biomass dies, rots and poisons the water when there aren't enough organisms to consume it and essentially take it up along the food chain. Thus, coastal water eutrophication is one of the main environmental concerns, which needs remedy.
The importance reefs and coastal zones have for the diversity of marine life cannot be overstated. For many species of the lower part of the food chain the presence of a hard substrate presents a chance of survival. In the form of a coral reef, rock boulder or the bottom of the sea, the hard substrate is essentially the kindergarten of the marine habitat. This is where the life of so many species begins and it is where they can evade predators and grow. Thus, such habitats quickly become rich in bio-diversity of species.
The marine species naturally recognize habitats that offer substrate and opportunities for security and food, even if they are artificial. Basins like the Black Sea have no natural reef-forming organisms, such as the corals, thus they have very sensitive ecosystems. Eutrophication, trawling and over-fishing are especially harmful as they directly affect the food chain and the habitat.
Artificial reef-structures would allow for a boost at the food chain level of the mollusks (mussels) as it offers their larvae a place to attach. Their attachment essentially forms the mussel reef. Already at an early stage of the installation we have observed the small fish and many bottom feeders recognize this habitat.
We have experimented with a variety of structure shapes and we have come to the conclusion that the vertical mussel reefs are the optimal design. To read more about our experiments refer to the reefs section of our page.