Celeste Searles Mazzacano (center) discusses the size of mussels she found in the Willamette River with her team members in July.

Celeste Searles Mazzacano (center) discusses the size of mussels she found in the Willamette River with her team members in July.

Brian Davies/The Register-Guard

A recent study has found a large population of mussels that live in the Willamette River near Maurie Jacobs Park is reproducing.

Last summer, a small team combed the bottom of the river west of the park’s footbridge to estimate the population and age of western pearlshell in the river to get an idea of how well they’re reproducing. A youthful, virile population of these shellfish, which can live more than a century, is an indicator that the river they live in is healthy.

Although the team was unable to find any juvenile mussels, it did find four mussels close to juvenile size. This discovery, combined with evidence that the population skewed younger and has a low mortality rate, led the team to conclude the population was viable.

“That is a very positive sign for mussels in the Eugene-Springfield area,” said Travis Williams, executive director of Willamette Riverkeepers, the nonprofit organization that commissioned the study.

Read the whole story at The Register-Guard.