Determining optimal duration of seed translocation periods for benthic mussel (Mytilus edulis) cultivation using physiological and behavioural measures of stress

Julia Calderwood*, Nessa E. O'Connor, Julia D. Sigwart, Dai Roberts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


During the benthic cultivation process of Mytilus edulis (blue mussels), wild mussel seed is often transplanted from naturally occurring subtidal beds to sheltered in-shore waters to be grown to a commercial size. The survival of these relaid mussels is ultimately a function of their quality and physiological condition upon relaying and it has been recognised that mussels can suffer from a loss in condition following transportation. We investigated whether the process of being transported to ongrowing plots had a negative effect on the physiological health and resultant behaviour of mussels by simulating transportation conditions in a controlled experiment. Mussels were kept, out of water, in plastic piping to recreate translocation conditions and further, we tested if depth held in a ship hold (0, 1.5 and 3 m) and length of time emersed (12, 24 and 48 h) affected mussel condition and behaviour. Physiological condition was assessed by quantifying mussel tissue pH and whole tissue glucose, glycogen, succinate and propionate concentrations. The rate of byssogenesis was also quantified to estimate recovery following a period of re-immersion. The depth at which mussels were held did not affect any of the physiological indicators of mussel stress but short-term byssus production was affected. Mussels held at 3 m produced fewer byssus threads during the first 72 h following re-immersion compared with mussels at 0 m (i.e. not buried) suggesting that depth held can impede recovery following transportation. Duration of emersion affected all stress indicators. Specifically, mussels held out of water for 48 h had a reduced physiological condition compared with those emersed for just 12 h. This work has practical implications for the benthic cultivation industry and based on these results we recommend that mussels are held out of water for less than 24 h prior to relaying to ensure physiological health and resultant condition is preserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)288-295
Number of pages8
Early online date23 Aug 2014
Publication statusPublished - 20 Oct 2014


  • Mytilus edulis
  • Benthic cultivation
  • Transportation
  • Physiology
  • Byssus


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