Buglife, the Invertebrate Conservation Trust, has reported that England's largest population of freshwater pearl mussels (Margaritifera margaritifera) has been devastated by lowered water levels.
Low outflow levels from Ennerdale Water Reservoir in Cumbria reduced flow in the River Ehen such that the oxygen concentrations dropped to dangerous levels, and up to 90% of the pearl mussel population was killed.
Buglife's CEO Matt Shardlow said, “This is devastating news. The bloated corpses of animals born when Charles Darwin was alive have been floating out of their beds and being swept into the Irish Sea.”
Water flow into the River Ehen is the responsibility of United Utilities, and Buglife is calling for an inquiry into the reservoir management and its devastating effects in this case.
Matt Shardlow said, “The UK supports a large proportion of the world population for this species, and we have an international responsibility to protect these animals. This is probably the UK’s biggest failure to implement the Habitats Directive to date. We must understand the cause of this disaster so that it never happens again.”
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