Local students use brain power to find mussels

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Students from across West Michigan went to Riverside Park Tuesday to learn about mussels and their role in the ecosystem.

“We just moved through the sand right by the shore, we’d stick our hands [in the water]," said Calvin Christian High School student Case Vanderheide. "Try to find these mussels.”

The students collected the mussels found in the water to identify what kind of mussels were found in the park. It's part of a program through the Grand Rapids White Water, learning what mussels do for the environment.

“They’re a huge part of the ecosystem, so you don’t have mussels, it kind of effects the entire ecosystem," said Ainsley Green, East Grand Rapids High School student. "For example, if one type of fish is out of the ecosystem, it could affect it.”

Green said some mussels are more endangered than others. "Zebra mussels are very invasive, so those are the bad ones, and snuff box mussels are our main study of research, they’re very endangered.”

These students are excited to be making a difference in West Michigan, hoping to restore the river.

“Gathering samples, numbers, information, that way it can lead to information about, 'Hey these aren’t supposed to be here, or we need more of these', therefore, we can be like, 'We need to make these changes to the river to restore it to what it was, the beautiful rapids it used to have,'" said Vian Abdulqader, Forest Hills Northern High School student.

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