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Friday, October 8, 2010 - 2:39am

Feds Propose Coastal Mussel As Endangered

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to add a rare Georgia mussel to the federal endangered species list.

The mussel is found only in one coastal river.

The Altamaha spinymussel can grow to about four inches long and is known for the spikes that grow on its back ridge

It used to live in the Ohoopee, Ocmulgee and Oconee Rivers, but now it's only found in the Altamaha

Scientists know very little about the mussels.

Altamaha Riverkeeper Sonja Cox says, being on the endangered list could mean more money for research.

"The numbers of that species have been decreasing and it probably should have been listed as endangered long time ago," Cox says. "Even just this proposal if it can free up some money to study what's going on that's causing those numbers to decline would be a good thing."

U.S. Fish and Wildlife proposes listing 11 counties on the Altamaha River as the spinymussel habitat.

If it goes through, it would be illegal to kill or harm the fish and federal agencies would have to manage for its protection.